Pedja Stanisic

I'm shell shocked, resisting tears as the waves of sorrow are following one another.

Victor was such a real, true, terrific guy, full of sparking energy, great pal with irresistible charm,
loud and funny, you could hear his voice and laughter far across the newsroom, and always on the move,
beaming energy and zest for news and life.

 

Many lives that he's touched and many careers he's helped develop to the full bloom will never forget him,

Our world is robbed of a great man.


I worked with him since 1994 in Nairobi before he left for Jerusalem and then again from 2003 in Singapore.
Desk seat could not hold him. He would just run into the MCR to help expedite video routing to London, he'd hit a button on switcher, once or twice with a surprising result...

 

”Ahhhh, oh no, no, bubba! Bubba, what have I done!”


.... while rushing back to newsroom in what would be quite comic scene as if he was a baby brother...

Angie Ramos

I wasn't the only one. In fact there have been so many like me who Victor took a chance on. He always had our backs so we could focus on the task in front of us. He inspired many people to take pride in every assignment and every task they do. 

 

Over the years, he perfected that tricky balance of inspiring the young and untrained , and harnessing the wisdom and experience of those who have been lucky enough to have taken the Reuters journey with him.


He gave me my dream posting when he sent me away for a year to live and set up the bureau in Afghanistan. A time when  management had to be convinced on the merits of sending a woman to a long-term posting in what was considered a hostile environment.

 

“There is NO way they will let a woman live in Afghanistan for a year,” he said, scratching his head. A politically incorrect statement but that was Victor - telling it like it is. Four months later, I had a one-way ticket to Kabul. 


He took his chance and that inspired me to work harder than ever.  I promised him he would have an all-Afghan operation after I finish my year.  I delivered on that promise.


Good-bye Victor and thank you for all the wise words of advice, your trust, your support and your kindness.

Paul Holmes

My heart goes out to you, Freddy, Pascale, Lili, Gabe and everyone in the family and the circle of friends who know and love Victor.  That is one enormous circle that spans continents. I like to believe, and I hope you do too, that good people live on through the values they instil in others. On that score, Victor's spirit is strong and present far and wide.

 

My name is Paul Holmes and I was the Reuters bureau chief in Jerusalem from 1997-2000, when Victor was there as head of the Reuters TV operation. We worked very closely together throughout the time he was there and socialized as families. Our kids went to the same (awful) school and we lived in the same village of Ein Karem (where the kids dug up a Roman road, but that's another story), so they were in and out of our houses all the time.  

 

My abiding memory of Victor is just how much he cared for everyone - starting with his family and extending to the people he worked with. We got there after Victor and Freddy and they immediately took us under their wing, introduced us to people and places and made sure we felt warmly welcomed.  

 

We went through some tough times in a newsroom covering a conflict where staff and their families were on different sides but we had to forge a real team.  No one was better at that than Victor.  He was loved, trusted and respected by Israelis and Palestinians alike, who knew he had their backs -- whether that was with the authorities or the company we worked for.  I can remember how proud Victor was of his Lebanese heritage, how infectious his laugh was and how energetic and persistent he was in covering the news.  A big man with a big heart and we all will miss him greatly.

 

With all my sympathy, Paul

Tooky Johnson

Victor

 

My partner in crime and best friend during two and a half crazy years at Hilton. The jury is still out as to which one of us was the worse influence on the other, but I’m happy to call it a draw.

All I know is that with you around we lived life to the fullest; wherever you were there was always lots of noise, laughter and fun. My kids grew up on “Vic stories” and our escapades are always a source of great amusement to them.

 

I’m so grateful that we were able to reconnect when you finally came back to SA, and I’m particularly grateful that I got to know Freddie better, as well as meet and hang out with Gabe, Pascy and Lilly. You were always so proud of all of them, and you have every reason to be, you’ve got an awesome family. Pascy was right when she said you didn’t prepare them for your death, but you prepared them for life - that’s a legacy you can be proud of.

 

The times we were able to get together recently were always fantastic, and I’m going to miss our regular catch up phone calls more than I care to think about right now. Thanks Vic, for being an unbelievable friend and bringing so much joy into my life.

 

Go well my mate

Bart Noonan

There’s lots to love about Victor.

 

A caring, compassionate, thoughtful soul. Listening to him think out loud was worth paid admission. Boundless imagination, curiosity and radiating energy propelled him like a whirlwind.

 

A day with Victor could be like a head spinning, vertigo inducing, limb trembling , whiplash jolting, exhilarating, hold- on- to- your- hat carnival ride.

 

He insisted we play a round of golf at Parkview every time I arrived in Joburg. He couldn’t contain his enthusiasm for the game…

 

We get to the tee.

 

“Barty- I’ve had lessons since the last time we played, eh? I’m going to drive it like Ernie Els!” Takes a few practice swings like he’s chopping wood.

 

“The instructor said I have a good swing but must learn to relax, eh?” Looks down the fairway, walks to his golf bag to get a different club, speaking not quite to me though nobody else is around….

 

“ There’s the tree towards the middle I don’t want to hit it there slightly off to the right would do to the left might be better but I don’t know if I can carry that it would leave me a long fairway wood to the green and I was going to lay up so Ill go right but need to hit a fade eh but then I could get into trouble with the little creek you cant quite see just beyond and I don’t want to do that…”

 

Returns with the new club, takes a few more practice chops, tees up the ball. Settles into a stiff “relaxed” stance.

 

“Yah Barty its all about relaxing, eh? Not too tight on the grip, hips loose, you must be relaxed!” Steps back from the ball, takes stance again, swings the club in short, rhythmic strokes. Except for his arms his body is rigid as a bronze statue. He tightens and loosens his hands on the club a few times and resettles his spikes into the turf. He reminds me of the Energizer battery bunny playing golf.

 

“Now, hips relaxed, head down, light, light grip like holding a bird in your hands.. forget Ernie, I’m going to drive this like Tiger, eh?”

 

SMACK! His ball hisses across the top of the grass with a sharp swerve to the right about 50 yards away. It is visible just outside knee high growth a further 30 yards down the fairway.

 

He looks at the ball as if it was a cameraman that has returned with the tape about and hour too late.

 

“Barty. He smiles. Give it a ride eh? We’ll manage par here and get down to the next hole and really drive it. And a few dops when we’re done!”

 

We managed par maybe four times anytime we played. But he loved it. And was always positive. And we enjoyed each other’s company and jokes and stories every minute of the way. And it was always so much fun and so worth it to be with Victor for golf or work or a braai.

 

Energy. Positivity. Curiosity. Thoughtfulness. So much to love about Victor. Relaxed? Not really at golf. But he always fully enjoyed every swing, living every moment of what he was doing and the fullness of who he was with.

Chris Matlock

I first met Victor at one of the big media gatherings in Rwanda or Zaire in the mid 90's when the Rwandan refugees were preparing to return home or shortly thereafter when the movement happened.

 

I had only been in Africa covering news for about a year or so but had heard about this fierce hard driving newsman at Reuters.

 

He expected much from his teams, wanted to beat the other agencies all the time, and could use four swear words in an eight-word sentence.

 

On one trip when most crews were staying at the Milles Collines Hotel in Kigali, Rwanda I was able to better see him in action since the RTV workspace was almost next to mine. In addition to seeing his aggressive newsman side I also saw or overheard a very compassionate human.

 

The regular greetings and conversations with hotel staff who often move about us anonymously, pulling money from his own pocket to give to a staffer or maybe a client who hadn't enough on them to buy lunch, helping out another client above and beyond when that person, who was on their first big international news trip, kept messing up satellite feed times and logistics. And, finally, he was just a great guy to sit down and enjoy a beer with at the end of a hard day. 

I can only imagine that if Victor and someone from AP arrived at the gates of Heaven at the same time then Victor would probably slip through first.

Mustafa Abu

Ganeyeh

Victor is a great friend and supporter, he believed in me and supported me this is the main reason why I am here today.

 

We stayed in touch after he left Jerusalem and the last time we talked for long it was early February and he was satisfied and happy from everything in life and he shared that he is becoming grandpa soon.

 

I still can’t believe how we lost him but I am sure we will never forget him…he is a man to be remembered forever.

 

Abu Jibril… this how I used to call him as well as all my colleagues in the Middle East.

 

Condolences to all may his soul RIP

Jane Wilmshurst

I am so very sorry to hear the tragic news about Victor. I am heartbroken for the family. 

 

I had the honour and pleasure of working with Victor for so many years at Reuters.

 

A consummate professional, he was always ready with advice or a good story. A brilliant journalist and great company. Although I never had the privilege of working in a bureau with him, it was always reassuring when I was on the desk in London to talk to him and know that I was in his safe hands.

 

It was great to catch up with him whenever he came in to the newsroom and he was always full of stories about his adored family. 

He truly was a great man and he will be sorely missed by all his extended Reuters family - past and present. 

 

Please accept my deepest condolences and much love to you and all the family,

Marie Frail

I'm so, so sorry that this wonderful man has gone. It just doesn't seem possible. 

Victor was my friend for 20 years and it wasn't enough.

 

He was always the flame around which we circled. He was a whirlwind, but a human above all - kind, funny, generous and unique. There is no one else quite like him, but his influence will live on in the army of people he mentored and guided over all the decades.

 

He made us all better people. I can hear his laughter even now because no matter the challenges, he had a never-ending zest for life and love for his family. 

 

For every tear that his scattered worldwide army has shed these past few days, they have been matched with choruses of laughter - beautiful memories of Victor who never missed a chance to squeeze more out of life. He was where the party was always at. He was always fizzing with ideas and comments on the state of the world. He was the ultimate adventurer.

 

His impact on my life was huge - without him, the whole trajectory of my life would have been different and what's remarkable is that there are so many people out there who can say the same. 

 

It's been a tumble of memories these past few days - celebrating his 40th birthday in Islamabad in a local restaurant, going on a day trip to Peshawar to check out the local market, accompanying him to a tailor in Islamabad where he got fitted for suits that he adored, telling him to shush when you could hear his stage whisper three streets away (sorry Victor), him calling me as I was about to return to work after having my baby and him telling me not to stress... I really could go on and on.

 

Above all I remember the laughter, his warmth and his love for his family. He was one of a kind. I feel your pain and sorrow at the sudden absence of this man who could fill a room, yet who always was ready with a kind and encouraging word.

 

He lived large and he lived well. I just wish we had more of his time. 

Great souls die and


our reality, bound to

them, takes leave of us.

Our souls,

dependent upon their

nurture,

now shrink, wizened.

Our minds, formed

and informed by their

radiance,
fall away.

We are not so much maddened

as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of
dark, cold

caves.

 

And when great souls die,

after a period peace blooms,

slowly and always

irregularly. Spaces fill

with a kind of

soothing electric vibration.

Our senses, restored, never

to be the same, whisper to us.

They existed. They existed.

We can be. Be and be

better. For they existed. 

― Maya Angelou 

Jill Gralow

The wind was taken out of my sails when I heard the news. It's not meant to be.

Victor helped so many people and had a contagious energy that kept us all going, even on the hardest of days.

Now, I will use that energy and enthusiasm in life and hope to be a better person, all because of him.

Jillybean (the name he gave me)

Alvin Andrews

A farewell tribute to a colleague, friend Victor Antonie RIP... Sadly left us last night...

I first met you when you jumped into the ABC NEWS crew car and wanted to accompany Graham Walsh and myself to Soweto to see for yourself what was going on. Soon you would end up on the Reuters TV news desk and I worked with you and Lara Logan on some great stories.

Our paths would cross again when we all ended up working at The Associated Press, you in the Senior Producers role... Alas you felt more comfortable at Reuters and returned there later, which took you as Bureau Chief of Television to Singapore, Washington and then Jerusalem before coming back here to South Africa where I teamed up with you again at Reuters to work on the last days of the Mandela legacy...

You were the heart and soul of the Reuters Africa operation in television. No challenge was too big for you....you took on the biggest stories with gusto... I liked your no nonsense style of news gathering. At the Johannesburg Bureau we had a lot of laughs and fun in between hard work chasing some big stories.

You will be missed in the Frontline television news business as you managed to master the art of going about your business as Africa Editor for Reuters Television.

My heart goes out to the Antonie family, Freddie Gabriel, Pascale and Lilly and Cecile with lots of prayers and blessings for them going through this difficult period in their lives.

Rest in peace dear, Victor... You will never be forgotten..... 

Sarah Edmonds

I am a long-time text colleague of Victor's and was shattered to hear the news. It seems impossible that such a huge personality should be gone from the world. 

I first met and laughed with Victor when I was Economics EIC in the Washington bureau in the early 2000s and he and I stayed in touch throughout my career at Reuters.

 

Still, I was very surprised and touched when he offered his wisdom ahead of a multicountry trip my husband and I took to Africa in 2017, and even carved time out of his busy schedule to join us for dinner when we were overnighting in Joburg on our way to Madagascar. 

As ever with Victor, it was an evening of laughter and warmth and great stories and none of us wanted it to end. The world has lost a big-hearted, open and caring man. We are all the poorer for it.

Deborah Lutterbeck

Remembering Victor

 

My mother spent the last year of her life in Washington, D.C. She was an incredibly accomplished woman, becoming a lawyer at a time when there were six women in her law school class, after being told more times than she could count why bother -- you are pretty enough to get a husband. She took great pride in her cooking and her idea of great theater was what happened around a dinner table.

 

That last year in her life we went to a restaurant in Georgetown called Cafe Leopold--- beautiful food and magnificent pastries.

 

We were early of course, sitting at a table for eight awaiting our guests and in come Victor and Freddie and one of their beautiful daughters making an entrance as only they could. Everything became electric.

 

My mother sat with Freddie -- my mother was enchanted.  Victor and my spouse Dave Spiro spent a good part of the meal regaling all of us with their life stories and adventures one upping each other with tales of eating fish eyes, covering wars -- smoking on balconies in far flung places talking to world leaders-- mostly true tales.

 

It was just wonderful. We all laughed, and ate and ate. No better gift for my mother in that final year of her life. It’s not always the big scenes in our life that become the most precious, the best gifts.

I also have vivid memories of a White House Correspondent’s dinner that was great fun. Elana Ringler was on assignment in DC and we fluttered around the hallways gaping at the guests... I took a picture of Elana  with George Clooney (I of course told her she may have been standing next to him but he was looking at me!)

 

After the dinner we went to pick up Freddie for the after parties. Freddie just magnificent -- Victor a little tense because we were running late. They sat in the front seats. I was in the back with Elana and my friend Mary Motta.

 

We were a little drunk and started acting very silly. Victor reprimanded us, telling us that we had to stop it -- he was trying to focus on driving and of course that only prompted us to become more outrageous. It was the best part of what was a terrific evening. Another one of those moments that is a cherished memory.

I loved having Victor in the newsroom in DC. He was electric and dramatic and encouraging and embraced rather than shied away from other big personalities. He gave people chances, let you try things out and no one was better company.

I remember Victor and Freddie spending a Thanksgiving at my house. My sister was there with her two daughters we ate and laughed and my niece Anna enchanted us all singing Amazing Grace -- another beautiful moment.

My father used to say you always had to find the raisins in the cake (he was German so I always suspected something was lost in translation) But what it meant to me was that it's often those kinds of experiences -- the moments that have the lasting impact.

I am so sorry Victor has died. We are all grieving. But the grace note is that Victor never wasted one moment of his life -- he got everything out of it and touched so many of us. I am so grateful that I had a chance to know him.

Kimberley Lim

I did not know Victor well but worked with him from afar starting from his days in the US when I was new to Reuters.

 

I remember Victor with the biggest and warmest of smiles.

 

He was so welcoming to everyone no matter their role or experience. He put you at ease while inspiring you to achieve the highest of standards.

 

I always enjoyed our conversations and admired his hugely infectious passion, energy and excellence in his work. I am deeply saddened to hear of his untimely death.

 

He was a class A act and will be missed.

Nadine Alfa

Hansson

I am gutted to hear about Victor's sudden passing. I honestly don't know anyone who loved life more than Victor... His smile, laugh and beautiful positive and funny demeanor were so contagious.

He was a force of nature, a kind hearted soul and always a true gentleman.

Like so many others in our field, Victor gave me my big break in journalism. He gave me work as a freelancer and then went to war to hire me full time in D.C. I will never ever forget how kind he was and how he took a chance on me when no one else did.

 

Such a great mentor, big brother, I just truly loved him with all my heart and I am just so heartbroken to hear this sad news. His wit and words of wisdom will stay with me forever. We used to joke that you could always hear Victor before you saw him... and it's true he was always the sparkle who lit up the room.

 

As Freddie knows, when my mom and young husband both passed away suddenly earlier this year, Victor called me out of the blue. We had not spoken in a while but it was almost like he knew... he knew I needed a friend and he was there for me.

 

I know that your journey without him is going to be heartbreaking but I really hope you find comfort in all the beautiful memories you shared and the love he had for you. You were all his pride and joy. You couldn't sit 5 minutes with Victor without him talking about you.... you were everything to him.  

 

Victor will never be forgotten. You are all in my heart and thoughts. Much love to all.

Eli Berlzon

Victor was my friend, colleague and manager – roles that coexisted without contradiction.

 

As my friend, Victor was always there for heart-to-heart talks. As manager, he never compromised on the quality of our file. He was demanding but at the same time empathetic and caring. He was always supportive of his team and our best interests, and readily addressed all of our needs.

 

During his two terms in Jerusalem the bureau accomplished major achievements and also thrived socially. Every time I would visit South Africa, I would be reminded of how much I missed him.

 

My heart goes out to Victor’s wonderful family, whom I got to know in Jerusalem, and of whom Victor always spoke of with great love. And to the lovely Cecile and the extended family: I send you a loving hug and my deepest condolences.

 

Goodbye Mister V.

Sisipho Skweyiya

I am truly devastated at Victor’s passing. He was my boss for five years and I honestly never thought I would have to pay tribute to him this way.

Victor took me in as an intern, not only trained me to be a credible producer but he mentored me, held my hand during difficult stories and always made me laugh through it all. I will miss him deeply and I’m so grateful to have known and worked with him – he taught me so many valuable things. May he rest in perfect peace. 

Russell Boyce

It was fun working with Victor over the past few years, he was a much liked and supportive colleague.

 

Victor’s passion for covering the news, chasing the story and maintaining safety and professional ethical standards for delivering trusted news was second to none. He fought tirelessly to try to ensure that his team in Africa were well represented and well equipped.

 

Although always busy he had time to share his depth of knowledge and experience, both of which were vast. Quick to boom out a laugh, take pleasure in a joke and find something positive when all seemed negative. And, of course, equally quick to mention his other loves, his family and fishing. 

 Russell Boyce, (former) Editor, Middle East and Africa, Pictures, Reuters 

Desmond Wright

I was totally unprepared for the news of Victors’s passing and cannot quite believe we will never meet again. Memories have flooded back from the many moments we shared, our tent on the beach in Mogadishu, exchanging news tapes across the Zaire and Rwanda border and visiting his tailor in Islamabad who decked him out in those collarless shirts and Punjab style waistcoats

 

I remember the first day we met in Johannesburg, where mid-lunch he ran out of the restaurant chasing a VW beetle down the road, shouting “It’s Freddie, I gotta go.” 

 

More than a decade later we were in his “happy place", fly fishing in Scotland on the River Tay. I will never forget the smile on his face when Mark Chisholm reeled in a 26 pound salmon that turned out to be the catch of the season. Victor dutifully volunteered to arrange the shipment of the processed smoked salmon to our homes back in Asia. Needless to say Mark and I are still waiting for the delivery.

 

In late 1999, the race was on to provide coverage of the dawn of the new millennium. News desks around the globe were preparing for live shots from remote tropical islands in the eastern Pacific, closest to the international dateline, somewhere near Tonga. Victor realised that Antarctica in December was the “land of the midnight sun” - 24 hours of daylight - and thus technically, the first sunrise of the year 2000 was not at 5.00 am on a Pacific atoll, but rather at midnight at the bottom of the earth.. We were dispatched on the trip of a lifetime, courtesy of the Royal New Zealand Air Force and Scott Base research station. It was total genius and typical Victor.

 

He was one of the finest newsmen of his generation, and above all, a friend for more than 30 years. He was a great man and we are all heartbroken.

 

Travel well brother, you will be missed.

Abdirahman

Hussein

I was shocked news when I heard the news of our great boss suddenly died of a heart attack.

My condolences to the family, friends and Reuters at large.

Nazanine Moshiri 

I was hired by Victor about a year ago to be the Senior Producer in Nairobi. It was a very strange time to start, with a pandemic and offices closed. I had also only met Victor once when he was over in Kenya in late 2019.

 

He made a huge impression.

Working with Victor was one of the reasons I took on the role. His passion, enthusiasm, humour and relentless competitiveness, spurred me to come back to journalism and join Reuters in more of an off-screen managerial role.

 

He was my champion, confidante and friend. He understood me and I understood him.

 

He called out stuff that was wrong when he needed too and tried to get me to have the courage and confidence to do the same. He really cared about our stringers in the region, but he was also a realist.

 

Victor always had my back, always.

 

I am going to dedicate myself to living up to the high standards and ideals he inspired.

 

I will never forget what he taught me in the short time we worked together.

 

I will never forget him.

Thmistocle

Hakizimana

I worked with Victor for over 20 years, he was more than a friend to me.
May his soul rest in peace.

Shaleem Bush 

Victor was an amazing man. We worked together at Reuters in Washington. 


He gave me my start in journalism and over the years became like a second dad to me. He was my son’s godfather and I will always treasure my visit to Johannesburg with him and Freddie.

 

He loved his kids so much and his face would light up every time he spoke about them.

 

He touched and change lives everywhere he went.

Darryl and Maria Antonie

There are no words left for me to say other than we will see you again in time to come, Victor!

Andrew Taylor

I met Victor at high school. However, I already knew who this dude was from playing sport against him in junior school - the noisiest scrumhalf ever, always directing the referee, and telling the opposition what to do! 

 

We became friends early on at high school - memories of those days in the dorm are filled with Victor and how he used to make us all laugh until our stomachs hurt ... and then he would make us laugh more until we fell asleep exhausted by laughter. What a privilege!

 

A story that describes Victor for me - when he met my father for the first time. Back then my father was an old fashioned, conservative man who was a stern father not to be disrespected. We were almost inclined to call him "sir" and other folks referred to him as Dr Taylor. He was in charge! First name terms were not a thing. When Victor arrived at our home he stepped forward with great confidence (all of 14 yrs old) to shake hands, dressed in a kaftan type arrangement if memory serves me correctly, and said something along these lines: "Max, great to meet you. I have heard a lot about you." For a brief moment you could hear pins drop - a line had been crossed! I guess Max gathered himself and responded appropriately - what else could he do? In the banter that followed Victor also suggested they discuss some business. I can't remember the details of that but Max was firmly engaged. They were friends and he always wanted to know how Victor was doing and what he was up to.

 

I will miss just knowing that Victor is out there somewhere, making the world a more colourful place. 

Rest in peace, my friend.

Michael Antonie

For those who don’t know me, I’m Michael, Victor’s brother. 

 

Eulogy - from the Greek word for praise. Appropriate on days like this. Allow me to share with you some thoughts and memories about our brother, father, husband, uncle and friend Victor.

 

How do you measure a man’s life if you had but one metric by which to do so? By his wealth or the car he drives? There is little doubt that Victor was extremely successful in his career in television news. He was rewarded through multiple executive appointments around the globe. Nairobi, Jerusalem, Singapore, Washington, back to Jerusalem, then home to Johannesburg for the past 10 years. He was twice honoured among Reuters journalists of the year since returning to 

Joburg. These are significant achievements.

 

However, in Victor’s case, I would venture to suggest that we measure his life premised on the fact that he was universally loved by all he engaged with. Equally, he reciprocated that love. The obituaries and messages of condolence received by our families reflect that single attribute.

 

We do not have to look far to find the source of that attribute – his namesake, our grandfather, Victor Yazbek. Affectionately known as Grandpa Vic. He too had a personality you could not resist. They were both larger than life and loved by all.

 

Victor Joseph Antonie was born on 3 November 1961 in Kroonstad in the Free State into a large extended Lebanese family. He was fourth in line behind our sisters Adrienne, Helen and me. He was the baby of the family for more than five years, a status he relished until our third sister, Cecile was born. He and I were only 18 months apart and from the start were incredibly close. We were referred to collectively as “the boys”. And we were inseparable. 

 

For those of you who knew us, you can attest that, whilst angelic, we were extremely naughty together and often drove our mother, proverbially, to drink. Enter Grandpa Vic. He lived close-by and used to collect us daily for jaunts around town and assisting him with chores. It was a magical existence. When I started school, he was Grandpa Vic’s sole wing man. When it was his turn to enter the convent, he was having none of it. Every morning when it was time to leave for school, he would run away with the staff and my mother and father after him in the road. Looking back, that was the Genesis of his independent and, some might even say, maverick approach to life.

 

We both went to boarding school in the Natal Midlands at a young age. Aside from obtaining a world class education, the boys from Kroonstad discovered fly fishing. Life was never the same again. Our first introduction to river fishing was the Mooi River not far from Nottingham road. We returned together many times in the recent past. 

 

No matter where he was in the world, brotherly love and fishing bound us together. In early 2001 he called me from Singapore – you have to come to New Zealand. Many of you will know that the Lord of the Rings series was filmed in New Zealand.  So, at the end of 2001 there we were, two Lebanese hobbits roaming the south island armed with fly rods and single malt whiskey! What joy.

 

Victor’s first love and passion was his family. His devotion to Freddie, Gabriel, Pascale and Lili was beyond comparison. Also, he regarded Giulia, Gabriel’s partner, as his daughter in every sense of the word. That’s who he was.

 

Victor and Freddie were together for 41 years. He adored Freddie and went to the ends of the earth for, and with, her literally and figuratively. In her own inimitable way, Freddie was as much an explorer as Victor. She created a home in all the far-flung places they lived. On two occasions, in Jerusalem and Singapore, she opened her home and her heart to me, Sue and the kids. Not only did this enable us to reconnect, it allowed the cousins to bond. 

 

Gabe, Pascy, Lili, he never ceased to regale me with stories about you and your achievements. He was immensely proud of you. As a father he equipped you with all the skills you require to navigate this life.

 

The common bond you all had, was your love of food and cooking. Whether it was French, Lebanese or Indian cuisine, you were all equally at home in the kitchen together. And, of course, never forget biltong and boerewors the staple diet of any Free State Leb along with hummus and kibbeh nayyeh.

 

Victor was soon to be a grand father. Gabe, I’d like to think that you and Giulia  will refer to him as Grandpa Vic. He earned it.

 

Victor adored his nieces and nephews. And they adored him. They lovingly joke about his attire – shorts with crocs and socks and referred to him as “Slick Vic”.

 

Victor was a raconteur. He had a story or an anecdote for every occasion. These were invariably accompanied by the booming voice, flashing smile and the inevitable hand gestures. 

 

On behalf of Freddie and the family, I want to thank you all for your incredible love and support in these trying times. 

 

Let me end by leaving you with this short piece I came across some time ago. I adapted it a little, but I believe it captures the essence of Victor’s affinity for the river.

 

I am a fly fisherman. It is not merely something I do, it is who I am. Fishing is not simply my escape. It is where I truly belong. It is where I am supposed to be. It is not a place that I go, but a lifelong journey I am on. Once you understand this, then you know who I am. 

 

Rest in peace brother. See you on the river.

Hannington Osodo

Jacquie Myburgh 

Victor used to come to work with a giant Tupperware full of krummelpap (porridge) for breakfast - which he would eat with milk and sugar while at the desk juggling a million things. I’ve never seen such passion. I have often shared the lesson he taught me early on: Bring me the solution, not the problem.

Alix Duchêne 

Pascale and Lili are amongst my best friends in the world. 

Not only did I know Victor from the endless admiration the girls had for him, but also by popping into their house from time to time. 

I will never forget the sweetness in which Lili and Pascale say "Daddy".

The first time I saw Victor was in D.C. when he drove to our school to drop something off for Pascale. I had only seen him through the window but his voice and presence were enough for me to think: "Oh, wow, Pascale has the coolest dad!" 

However, one of my fondest memory was back in 2009 when Lili and I were directing a short film for school.

 

There were no second thoughts on who was going to record the voice over, the role was intended for one person only, and it was Victor. 

I sat at his kitchen table for hours and we wrote it all together. I would vaguely and inefficiently tell him the emotions in my head and for some weird reason, he actually understood me each time. He was just a wonderful writer. He had an amazing ability to put things into words. His savoir-faire and professionalism were admirable. He managed to become even cooler in my eyes. 

But above all, I will always cherish how Victor and Freddie raised such wonderful children. He passed his values and qualities on to them and in doing so, put amazing human beings on this earth. 

I could never thank him enough for giving two of my best friends. 

Rest in Peace Victor, 

Your light will remain in us all. 

Michael O'Driscoll 

 

Tributes

Victor was that rarest of things - both an unstoppable force and an immovable object! I first met him in 1990 when I arrived as a green Bureau Chief sent out from London to Joburg. Victor was the noisy ball of energy in the corner fiddling with some sound equipment. Since he had plenty of opinions and ideas and I needed a producer who could fill in my lack of local knowledge, I made probably my smartest ever management decision and ended his sound career to start his producing one. Of course he was a natural and would have got there anyway. His sharp intelligence, quick wits and boundless questioning nature meant he could have been made for the job. Victor did everything with passion and commitment, huge energy and with the volume turned up to maximum. He was fiercely competitive as a news professional but as a person he was generous, fair minded and very funny. He always had time for everybody and was thoughtful and sensitive to other people's needs.

Victor was driven by a sense of justice and fairplay for all, though he had few illusions about the world and the people who try to run it. The early 90s was a difficult time in South African history.  After the release of Nelson Mandela but with the old regime doing everything it could to stop the progress towards democracy. In Victor's own words we were "the good guys" bearing witness to the situation and hoping that in our own small way we were helping to bring about change for the better. There were dangers and difficulties to be faced including the loss of our dear friend and colleague Aziz Tassiem, in a car crash. Through it all Victor's character shone through. He had courage and determination enough to handle any situation as well as the wits and know how to get the job done. Back then we all had to rely on each other a great deal both professionally but also personally. Victor was someone who was alway there and could always be relied upon and trusted. You knew where you stood with Victor.All of that stood him in good stead as his career rose to ever greater heights. he remained true to himself and his principles and won the respect, maybe grudging in some cases, of those above and below wherever his journey took him- Jerusalem, Nairobi, Singapore, Washington DC to name just a few.  

I like to think between us we made our own small contribution to South African history by inventing Paternity Leave in the country. It came about when Victor turned up to the office several days in a row with dark rims around his eyes and a haggard look. He was not his usual ebullient self and was possibly even a bit snappy. I began to think he might be ill or have some serious problem so I called him into the office and asked what was wrong. His eyes widened as he unburdened himself and said  "Pascale [then a very young baby] doesn't sleep and Lily has never slept. Basically I haven't had a proper night's sleep for years!"  I told him he was no good to me in that state and should go home, help Freddie, look after the baby, get some sleep and stay away until he was feeling better- I think it took about 10 days before he came bouncing back into the office. It was useful precedent to set  as I felt able to take a few days off when my daughter Grace was born in Joburg Gen not too much later.     . 

Victor was a real citizen of the world but he was also proud of his Lebanese, French and South African heritage, At some point before I was due to return to the UK, we were talking about memorable meals we'd eaten. I mentioned a fine cous cous royale with merguez sausages  I'd eaten in France. "Before you leave I'll make you a better one!" Victor declared in his inimitable way and of course he was true to his word.  Being Victor it couldn't be just another braai. It was a veritable feast and he'd made the sausages and charcuterie himself! It was a kind and generous parting gift from someone who had become a true and trusted close friend. 

I only saw Victor a few times after I left the Joburg bureau. First when I went back for the first democratic elections and then later when he was passing through London from Jerusalem or elsewhere. He never seemed to change. He was the same lively, full throttle, smiling man he'd always been. Our talk would quickly turn to family which was what always mattered most to him and maybe drove him on. He never seemed to change, Success in journalism and his career did not turn his head or make him forget where he'd come from and how hard he'd worked to get there. He was always ready to give someone a chance if he could. 

Because Victor was such a palpable and even overwhelming presence, even now I can't think of him without a smile,  I guess I thought he'd always be there and there'd always be time for another catch up. I was sadly wrong in that but I am at least left with some wonderful memories of a wonderful person. Of course Victor was a talented senior news professional but much more than that he knew how to live. To make the most of the opportunities offered each day and how to deal with the challenges and difficulties life can throw at us. I guess we could all use some of that Victor spirit right now.   Although he has been taken from us so cruelly young he lived enough for several normal lifetimes.   

I miss him greatly and I've shed some tears in the last few days but beyond that  I count myself lucky to have known him and proud to call myself his friend. So much of what was good about Victor will stay with us and I will hold those memories close and keep him in my heart. 

Royston Chan

To the man who hired me for my first job and gave me the longest interview of my life. 

To the boss who would not shut up and made the corner office his grand turf.

To the father who shared with me his dearest family and introduced me to the humble hummus.

To the friend who believed in my potential and gave me the world to work wonders on.

I will miss your big heart and even bigger voice."

Kumerra Gemechu

I am a freelance cameraman in Ethiopia.

I cannot tell you how much shock I felt when I was told the untimely passing away of our dear colleague Victor. Victor compensated me morally and financially when found out that I had been unfairly treated by a former manager. He said to me "Reuters is a big happy family where everybody is treated equally".

 

Indeed I have now discovered his words are very true. I will always remember him with these words.

 

May God give you his comfort throughout this tough time.

Jane Greenhalgh

One of my (very few) regrets about working at Reuters is that I never worked in a bureau or in the field with Victor.  That in itself is probably testimony to his excellent management skills.

 

It was a pleasure to pick up his calls when on the desk, even more to enjoy his company on his occasional visits to London.  His boundless energy and good cheer was infectious.

 

However, what was clearly the most important thing to him was you - his family.  I remember him positively fizzing with excitement just before holidays or trips to the airport to pick up a family member. 

I rarely worked with Victor but was one of a group of those media people who, along with Victor and many others in the media, witnessed and recorded the transformation to democracy in South Africa.

 

What stood out with Victor was the level of energy and enthusiasm he would bring to a workplace; a determination to make things work with a smile on his face. 

When Victor Antonie set out to do something you knew it was going to happen - and if things appeared not to be going according to plan he would always 'make a plan'. 

He was a prominent figure in the media community during one of the most important eras in our history; a stalwart, both in South Africa and around the world.

Rest in peace Victor - you will not be forgotten.

Richard Davies

Victor loved life, and he intoxicated all who knew him with his passion for living.

Lesley will always remember slaving away on yet another story at her fourth-floor desk in the Reuters Washington newsroom when Victor would drop in from his fifth-floor office, an ever-present smile lighting up his face, and loudly call out an Afrikaans greeting:

 

"Hello, pop!" He would visit a few minutes before moving on to chat with others, which deepened working relationships into friendships while keeping Victor up-to-date on all happenings in the bureau.

Tom remembers Victor's 4-iron, which was his club of choice and in fact the only one he hit consistently well when he took up golf again in Washington after years away from the game. For an extremely enjoyable summer or two more than a decade ago, Victor and Tom and Jay Hudson and Michael Weekes played regularly at East Potomac or Rock Creek Park.

 

They joked and laughed a lot, and even managed an occasional decent shot, especially Victor with the 4-iron he used off the tee and and for any other long shot. He hit it very far and straight, like a pro, and there was something so quintessentially Victor in developing such a unique approach based on his very specific expertise.

For Lesley and Tom, the many memories of wonderful evenings with Victor and Freddie -- dinners, concerts, parties -- will be with us always. Victor adored Freddie, and if you wanted to see him smile even more brightly and hear his deep voice fill with even more pride, all you had to do was ask about Gabriel and Lili and Pascale.

 

We'll never forget his exuberant spirit and radiant soul.

Tom Cohen

Howzit

 

April , 10 , 1993

 

I was sitting in a barber shop getting my hair cut on a Saturday morning.

The barber was busy cutting the right side of my hair when I got a call from Victor asking me where I was, I responded by saying I am having my hair cut, his response was; ok, get your ass to Hanis house, he’s been shot!

Me, but they have only cut one side of my head !

Victor, I don’t care how you look, just get your ass over there!

I put 20 Rand on the chair and ran for the car, got there in time to shoot them removing the body and interviews with shocked eyewitnesses.

People did ask me about my hair cut, my response, it’s the Victor cut and left it at that.

Three days later I had the other side cut off.

PS With Victor's tip off , I was there first after the police !

Leon Malherbe

I am a TV producer in Washington D.C. and one of many in the Reuters family whose lives Victor changed forever. 

In March 2006, after graduating from journalism school in Missouri, I sent an email to Victor asking him for any freelance opportunities at the Reuters DC bureau.

 

I mentioned I had worked at a Reuters affiliate in India and was aware of what an agency job entailed. It was an email that I had sent to various bureaus around D.C, but in retrospect, it turned out to be the most important email I have ever sent. I wasn't expecting an answer, but I heard from him the very next day, and the rest is history.

 

When I went into his office to thank him, all he said was—- remember to pay it forward. He was a true leader and saw the best in you even if you didn't see it in yourself. He pulled you up to HIS level, rather than putting you down.

 

Not once did I think, that 15 years later to the month, my colleagues and I would be bidding farewell to this kind-hearted, passionate, larger-than-life legend who gave me the life I have today.

 

To his beautiful wife and children, if you’re reading this, please know that a little bit of Victor lives on in each of us whose lives he changed for the better. Rest In Peace, dearest Victor Antonie, so many of us owe you so much.

Pavithra S. George

A colleague, comrade, friend but most important of all a father to many of us. I called you “baba” because where I come from we never refer to an elder by their name but baba was fitting for you meaning father.

 

Your departure was sudden and the hurt cuts really deep. You maybe gone but I still hear your voice loud and clear, yes you knew you had a loud voice.

 

From now onwards everything is gonna be the first for me without you and I’m not sure how that will work. Go well Mr V - hamba kahle Baba you will forever be in our hearts. 

 

In you we have gained a guardian angel. Rest for now we shall meet again. 

Siyabonga Sishi

Victor was a true legend who touched so many lives and brought his unique and forthright way of thinking, talking and acting to a life well lived.

 

Around the poker table, on the golf course, at the pub or indeed in the newsroom, Victor had a way about him -  a zest, a verve, a view - that enlivened such occasions and made them so special for all who shared them with him.

 

Although he called pretty much everyone ‘Baba’ -  it always felt a bit special when he called me that. He had a way of making you feel like you belonged and that he cared.

 

Above all else - above his playfulness, his competitiveness and occasional bursts of outright wackiness - was his absolute and genuine love for Freddy, Pascy, Lilly and Gabriel. A simple “how’s the fandamily (another unique Victorism)” and he would put the troubles of the day behind and melt in to adorable and hilarious tales of the goings on at home.

 

Never to be missed and everyone in the newsroom would get a taste thanks to that booming voice and filthy laugh.

 

Taken too soon. A real brother in arms.

 

RIP Victor and may your family find strength in knowing how many lives you touched and the affection in which you were held by so many.

Julian Rake

One story does pop to mind but it does have a macabre slant in that it relates to a time a long while back when I heard Victor had died. It seems a tad offside but take this from whence it comes and allow me as no offense or disrespect is intended. 

 

It was one of those media gang bangs where every agency and network found themselves on the same story but for the love of me I can’t remember what we were covering but it was Maputo  Mocambique and still in the glory days of Five Star travel and accommodation. Our media headquarters was of course the grand old Dame, The Polana circa early 90’s (Mark Chisholm ??) 

 

The highlight of a trip to Moz in those days was prawn platters. With the SA Rand still commanding respect in those times the platters came as mountains of pink! Mike Condé the Rembrandt of of the camera, Mark Chisholm, Victor and myself amongst others found ourselves sharing a long table at some open air venue whose name eludes me. Order of the day: mountains of prawns, Dos M’s and copious Aguardiente shorts, purely to assist with digestion of course. 

 

A short while into the dinner Victor sitting on my direct left starts getting fidgety, now this is more restless activity than what was Vic’s norm. I mean he was Mr Restless and this was over and above that. So picture the scene. Between prawn pickings and sips I see Victor scratching his chest and rubbing his scalp more than intermittently. He is getting redder by the minute but I put it down to the results of sipping given that Victor was not big on the pursuit of beverages nudge nudge wink wink. 

 

It’s long before Victor declares “ shit guys this is getting to me” “this is not good... you know I’m allergic to shellfish!” I mean WTF!! When pressed as to why he was eating the prawns he said “This is Moz and the prawns are damn good, too good to miss out” Now this you see  attests to Victor’s love of food and social eating but also to his stubborn side. And he was stubborn as anyone at Visnews/RTV. Must be an Antonie thing because I know a few of them. 

 

Victor’s scratching and rubbing know becomes more of a frenetic dance. If we had put it to music it would have made Jerusalema kindergarten stuff. He is shirtless, beet red and covered in bumps and welts when he waves the white handkerchief and asks Mark to take him back to the Polana. 

 

Mike and I return to the hotel a while later to find consternation and chaos underway at the reception. Frantic staff running about after a doctor into the lifts. We then hear that the guy in room xxx has died. Shit, That is Victor’s room it dawns on us!  Mike and I scramble upstairs to the room and find Mark in the corridor outside the room that now looks like a casualty ward with drips and paraphernalia being rushed in. I ask Mark if it’s true that Victor is dead. “No man that’s what Victor said I should tell the night staff!” 

That was a good call, saved his life I think. 

 

The lack of response was partly due to the lack of facility in early Moz but also because in those early days of travel to Moz, South Africans were viewed as the enemy and they weren’t too perturbed by the fact someone oke was undergoing anaphylactic shock due to a food allergy. Mark had repeatedly asked for medical assistance and for a doctor to be sent to the room but this was not going to happen. So even in the midst of Victor’s allergic reaction, with him succumbing to the effects of shock and delirium he had the nouse to make the smart call. Victor was always one to play the game to win. He had the cunning, the acumen and sensibility to assess a situation whatever the chaos and situation and to make a winning call, an attribute that made him the world famous “operator” and respected media adversary earning the title Victor the Legend! A well deserved accolade endorsed by the world’s best for the World’s Best. 

 

Hamba Kahle Boetie, you Legend. 

Anton Swart

First of all my deepest condolences. I am still in shock since hearing the news.

 

Victor was an amazing person. He was always welcoming whether in  person or on the phone. I got to know Victor when he was based in Nairobi and I was based in Cairo.

 

We used to speak over the phone, it was always a bad line. I then got to meet him in person when he came to Egypt to help with coverage of a summit. I got to realize it wasn’t a bad line and that he always spoke loudly and fast.

 

He introduced himself  as “I’m your Lebanese brother” and since that day back in the 90’s we always joked about how Lebanese he was and how African I was .

 

He was always thoughtful and kind. He always made sure that his team were in good spirits and helped young journalists where ever he was. He helped organise a training course in Gaza in memory of a late cameraman and was an ambassador for African journalists making sure that they reinforced the major stories outside of the region. He introduced some of the continent’s finest video journalist to the world.  

 

I am honoured to have worked with you and to have shared some great times together from eating falafel in a Jerusalem market to horse hiding at the Pyramids. Sadly it was too short.  

 

The world is a very empty place without you Bru.  Rest in Peace.

Ahmed Assar

My fondest memories of Vic and Fred were in 1987, in France.

 

Brett my GF and I, were travelling around Europe in a kombi and we went to see them in Bandol I  think it was. They were getting ready for a huge big Marriage with all the family arriving from SA and Tunisia( if memory serves me).

 

We now had to start preparing the food and Vic and I got stuck in making Lebanese food (I  can't  remember what all we made but I  know Taboolie somehow stood out.) I also learnt from Freddys dad who had brought a huge chicken from the farm in SA, to France. Luckily it was not alive but frozen.

 

We had the greatest of times and the wedding was incredible and went on for days. What fun we all had preparing the food and drinking lots of wine whilst cooking.

 

Gabe was a tiny little thing and was such a good baby.

 

It was one of the highlights of my life, being able to be  with Vic and Fred and their family in a foreign  country  and the hospitality they showed us was beyond belief.

 

Vic, Michael and I always had a strong bond  from the days of growing up as kids and because we were always so naughty and getting up to mischief, but spending those weeks with V and F  in France, somehow brought us as  close as brothers as I was his only family to be with him from SA at his French wedding.

 

I was honored and happy to be by his side and the fun we had was fantastic. That French Odyssey brought us much closer as cousins and they are memories I will have forever.

John Haddad

Victor was a very special man, loved, respected and trusted by his colleagues at Reuters. Even people who last met Victor a decade ago are feeling a gap in their lives.  It’s a rare person who can make that sort of impression.

 

I’ve run the video department at Reuters and grew to love working with Victor.

 

He was a huge presence in the video team, even though for the last few years he was usually a voice on the phone or a face on a laptop screen. But Victor was unignorable.

 

He never seemed to let anything get him down. He was either the world’s greatest optimist or a very good actor – probably a bit of both. He inspired confidence – you always felt that however difficult the story no-one would be able to do a better job than Victor. He cared deeply for the people he worked with, and was one of the most competitive journalists I’ve ever met.

 

When we did occasionally meet in person, Victor lived up to his image. There was something of the pirate about him, with his earring glinting and his rebellious streak. He was a manager, a leader, but also slightly subversive.

 

I remember when I visited South Africa few years ago Victor gave me the warmest possible welcome. We spent a great day travelling round Soweto visiting the historic sites. He was so kind.

 

We are all the poorer for the sudden loss of Victor. Our world and our lives are a bit quieter, less colourful and less fun. He is hugely missed.

John Pullman

I still find it difficult to accept that Victor is no longer with us, but I find it even more difficult writing a tribute to a bother and a legend in the news industry.  

Victor is constantly on my mind and I think of him day and night – he left us way too soon.

 

Even though I have not seen Victor in a few years – I’m extremely grateful that I had a lovely 40 minute conversation with him just over a month ago. He usually referred to me as Markie or Chissy!   

 

We had a good laugh as always and we were both saying how much we were looking forward to retirement in just a few years. I told him my plan was to return to South Africa for good and we could arrange some fishing trips together – we both got very excited at the thought. He was telling me about his Reuters pension and suggested he hook me up with his son Gabriel for financial advice (he did, but we still need to talk). He was very proud of Gabriel and told me how he gave Cecile some good financial advice. As always, Victor spoke about his adorning family – he loved nothing more than spending time with Freddy, Gab, Pascale and Lili. He was saying by some luck, all the children managed to make it back to SA for Christmas and that it meant so much to him and Freddy.

 

Little did I know when hanging up the phone – that would be the last time I got to speak to my dear friend.            

I started freelancing for Visnews and the BBC during South Africa’s apartheid days in late 1987 – I believe Victor started freelancing with us around 89 if I’m not mistaken.

We hit it off immediately – he with his tight crotch choking striped or spotted pants, with a bright flowered long sleeve shirt to match – me dull and boring as always.

 

Those were the glory days of television and together we helped reveal to the world what was really happing in apartheid South Africa. We covered the daily township violence, police brutality, massacres, AWB, bombings, Mandela’s release, CODESA talks to end apartheid, elections, and finally Mandela’s inauguration. Victor was usually in the office shouting and stressed, while juggling two phones and coordinating news edits and satellite feeds. Often when I returned to the office after a long day in the townships covered in sweat and dirt  – Victor would walk up to me with a wide grin saying “Markie!, I made you look good again”.

Sometimes to get even, I would zoom in close on a dead body in the townships to show him what it was really like in the field – that would always freak him out!

 

But what cracked me up the most on a daily basis - was the fact that Freddy had a knack of calling Victor during a stressful edit or tight satellite deadline. Calmly asking if he was busy – and ignoring his reply, Freddy would go on to ask if he could pick up a loaf of bread or a dozen eggs on his way home that evening 😊. Victor’s reaction was always priceless!

 

It was while covering the South African story, that Victor and I formed this incredible friendship that I still cherish to this day. It was also during this period that I got to know the lovely Freddy. Such an intelligent, charismatic, beautiful, elegant and charming woman. Freddy and Victor were a tight unit and inseparable. I fondly remember having several delicious dinners at their home while been accompanied by the lovely Lara Logan - Gabriel was still a toddler at the time. Lara would later become the godmother to Pascale and Lili. Covering events in South Africa remain the highlight of my career – especially working with the likes of Victor, Lara, Geoff, Rob, Leon, Dinky, Frank, Sposito, Steve, Copeland and so many other great people.

 

Our incredible journey did not end there though. Victor and I would end up working together in Israel for a few years, and then again when he managed TV Asia, while I was based in Afghanistan, Thailand and eventually China. It was also during this period that I got to know the lovely Pascale and Lili too. Whenever we got to see each other over the years – the room was always filled with laughter, wonderful memories and special moments – I will cherish that for the rest of my life!

 

We all have a Victor funny moment -  it would be unfair if I never shared mine!

 

It was my first wedding in Perth – Scotland. It was a small wedding on an exclusive estate and it goes without saying that Victor was among the 35 invited guests – pretty much all of them were well-known and respected journalists. I believe Freddy couldn’t make it as the children were all at school. It was a typical Chisholm shamble to start with – not only did I get the wedding dress tangled in the closing train doors, but I also managed to leave the dress in our London hotel cupboard before flying to Edenborough – a sign of things to come!.

 

Victor and Rutie Zuta I believe arrived from Jerusalem, my bride to be and I worked for Reuters there too. Victor the typical wind-up merchant, thought it a good idea to give us some sex toys as a wedding gift – hilarious yes. Only problem was that Victor and Rutie got stopped by security for a random check before leaving the airport. Once the sex toys were discovered by security and to the bewilderment of the passing passengers, Victor and Rutie tried to explain that they were in Scotland for a friend’s wedding and the toys were a gift. After an embarrassing 30 minutes of negotiations they were allowed to leave with the large dildo and nipple chains – however the handcuffs were confiscated. Apart from a few guests running about with a dildo attached to their heads – the wedding was a great success.

 

The next day as a wedding gift, Victor and Des took me salmon fishing not far from Perth. Apparently the stretch of river we were about to fish was often frequented by no other than Prince Charles. As there were only 2 gaiters available to hire – Victor and Des took them and disappeared up river. I stayed with the park owner and fished from the river bank. After about an hour – by pure luck I hooked a large fish. Victor and Des heard the commotion and excitedly ran back to join us. After a 35 minute battle, I finally landed a 21 pound Cape Atlantic salmon – not bad for a novice. To this day I will never forget Victor’s face – he was so happy and proud and gleaming from ear to ear. It was just fantastic. When returning to the estate, none of the wedding guests believed I had caught the salmon – they all thought we had bought it at the local fish market. About 6 months later while on assignment in Afghanistan, I got an email from the park owner saying my salmon was a record along that stretch of river for the year and I’d won a free fishing trip for three. Sadly we were unable to return to claim our prize – but as an avid fisherman, it was certainly one of Victor’s proudest moments and I was pleased to be part of it.       

 

Finally, I have been privileged to have known and worked with Victor since our humble beginnings in South Africa over 3 decades ago. Our incredible journey took us across Africa, the Middle East and Asia. I’ve lost several close colleagues in the news business over the years, but find Victor’s passing the hardest to accept. Not only was he a close friend and colleague - he was a natural born leader who oozed talent, charisma, charm, confidence and an eye for a story. Armed with a wicket sense of humor and an infectious laugh, he truly led from the front and was an inspiration to those working around him.

But above all – he was a devoted and loving father and husband. My heart goes out to his wife Freddy and their adorable children Gabriel, Pascale and Lili.

I will miss you brother – until we meet again!

Mark Chisholm

I didn’t get to work with Victor as much as I would have liked, but did get to benefit from his advice, and his sheer enthusiasm was always an inspiration.

I did get to work with Pascale and can only say that she is right in describing how he raised them, she’s a daughter in his creation that he was no doubt very proud of.

And I think we can say the same as she did. “He took us on an adventure around the world, raised us to be strong and caring and told the best stories"

He’ll be sorely missed by a lot of people

May you rest in peace mate.

Claire Watson

I realised this week that the most consistent phrase I’ve heard over years, whether in Mosul, Gaza, Dakar, Nairobi or Jerusalem is “HOW IS VICTOR”.

 

He was known, respected and loved across two of the most turbulent regions in the world. Victor aced big stories – from Mandela’s release to COVID-19 - with his usual laser-like precision and uncanny ability to get management to approve extraordinary costs – A rather costly helicopter flight to Beira to cover the cyclone aftermath – No problem for Victor.

 

I’ve known the man for 30 years and I only wish I could have had a quarter of his energy. In the way he attacked a story – sorry, there is no other way to describe it – Victor wanted to give our clients the best TV story and he would go to any length to ensure they had the best visual story of the day. That meant us Reuters text journalists had all the material we needed to write a

good story. 

 

Victor always thought of the multi-media aspect – even before most journalists discovered the word. Most of the time, Reuters left our competitors lagging behind. But God forbid we miss out on a story.

(Victor would close the door and windows in the old Johannesburg office and I always felt sorry for the person on the receiving end. As we all know Victor BOOMED)

 

On the other hand, he cared deeply for his team. He made time for coffees,phone calls and chats with all those who needed advice or encouragement. Often over lunch.

The man’s trim figure was a mystery to all of us. He would start talking about the food he craved for lunch shortly after his avocado and toast breakfast. By lunch time he would have mouths watering, then lead a dash to find the best Ramen in town (or whatever he fancied that day). Ending with contented

groans as he and his partners in crime happily ate Ramen.

 

There was something old worldly about Victor arriving for dinner in one of his arresting outfits, his jaunty hat in place and his elegant bride, Freddie, at his side. Over dinner and a few glasses of wine they would debate fiercely, laugh uproariously and compliment the food sincerely. He always referred to Freddie as the love of his life and was fiercely proud of Gabe, Pascy and Lilli.

 

Victor was passionate about news and fiercely loyal to Reuters. But he also knew how to relax.

 

Shortly before the historic South African elections in 1994, Victor came to Durban where I was based for Reuters to meet with his TV team - It was me, Peter Rudden and Chevon Raysom.

 

He took one look at the shabby Durban newsroom – actually the storeroom for the Reuters business sales person – spotted my cell phone, a huge brick and said “Is that what I think it is?” i was one of the first journalists with a cell phone in those days.

Victor said: “Bring it, we are going to do some executive producing”.

 

So we did, went to a bar next to the beach and I learned all about executive producing. 

 

Great day with a wonderful guy.

 

More recently:

 

Victor recently bought a new car. During the purchase process he found out that his driver’s licence is no longer valid.

 

Some Transport Department audit was done and meant he no longer had a licence.

 

He then managed to get a learners’ licence appointment on a Tuesday in some small town outside Johannesburg, passed that on the Tuesday and went back on Thursday and did his driver’s licence. Most people will take weeks to even get a learners’ licence.

 

Not Victor, he knew how to fix things.

 

What few people knew, is Victor was acutely involved in promoting Reuters 

products and ensuring we keep crucial revenue. He worked very closely with our media sales team in Johannesburg and on a number of occasions helped convince key clients to stick with Reuters.

 

Victor thrived on the many successes of all the young journalists he mentored. He leaves behind a legacy of eager, focused and ambitious journalists spending 80 percent of their time doing the 20 percent that matters. Victor’s famous 80/20 rule.

 

At Reuters his voice will long echo in the minds of those he mentored, the team he inspired, the people he laughed and ....ate with. He was an institution. He was family. The office is simply going to be too quiet without him, as will our lives.

 

A few years ago my wife and I we went to see a band gig with Victor. As we were listening to the bluesy tones, Victor sat next to me with his eyes closed, tapping his foot wildly and said. “WHAT A JAM, MAN. WHAT A JAM”

 

Indeed my friend, what a jam it’s been knowing you, a fantastic, wild jam.

Marius Bosch

Back on the times of Rodney Pinder as  global editor for TV, he decided he wanted all regional editors in the weekly planning calls. That meant night time for Asia and very very early hours for the Americas. 0430 local to be more precise!

 

In my role as Deputy Editor for Latam, it wasn't my job to be on those calls (thank God) but whenever my boss and eternal friend Evelyn Grubber was away I had to go through it, always fearing a sudden question by Julian Tarrant for which I might not have a response, or even worse, being asked a question that I didn't get to understand as my Latino ear wasn't yet up to speed for so many different English accents on that call.

 

There was only one voice I could always clearly understand. The guy speaking from Asia. He was always to the point and extremely fluent to explain his coverage plans. Sharp and quick. He sounded like a real veteran in this business. I always pictured him as a big, tall, fearless very friendly news veteran full of experiences to tell.

I would really like to meet him one day, I thought. He sounds like fun!

 

Then September 11th came. And thanks to a genius idea of my boss, she and I ended up in Pakistan working as on-camera correspondents for eight Latin American broadcasters reporting on the US intervention in Afghanistan. The only condition for our adventure was that we could not bring a camera operator from our region and we would need to work with the existing resources on the ground.

 

So there we were, flying to Islamabad to add more work to the already swamped group of Reuters journalists led by Victor Antonie.

Evelyn and I were frightened. We thought the atmosphere was going to be just as hostile as the very Pakistani-Afghan border.

Little I knew. That day I met one of the most amazing group of people I've ever worked with. To mention only a few names, sitting in that improvised newsroom at the Marriott Islamabad hotel we found: Suzanna Woods, Marie Frail, Jill Gralow, Paul Pasquale, Taras Protsyuk and, of course, the boss, the guy of the clear voice from Asia. But, hang on, where was that big, tall, big cheese I had in my mind??.. Far from my imagination picture, I found a guy next door, running around in socks and speaking to ten people at the same time. One mobile phone in each ear, local stringers, drivers, translators, London and Freddie!!!

We stood there in silence. Me thinking, oh my god, he will never have time for us.

Next think I knew, we were downstairs at the hotel cafeteria, him grabbing a sandwich and in ten minutes, the situation on the ground, the operation and our challenges clearly explained to us. Just in the same way I had heard him do it during those horrible early morning calls. Genius. His support, his advice helped us succeed in our crazy project. To the point that more clients added to it and we ended up spending two months in the area. At the end of each day, no matter how busy and tired we were  he always had the time for a glass of whisky with his team. He always had the time to ask everybody how we were doing.

And from that crazy time in 2001 on, Victor stayed in our lives. He never changed. He was the same person eating that sandwich in Islamabad or attending a black tie White House Correspondents Dinner in DC years later as my boss in the Americas. The same energetic character running around in socks to the outrage of some in the 1333 H ST newsroom, the same person who provided his advice even when you  weren't asking for it. "No drama," he would say when I felt the world was falling apart. Even when he felt his own world was falling apart at some point.

His smile remained intact even during the most difficult times and his immense love for Freddie and his children was the single most important thing of his life. He couldn't stop talking about them, their successes, their skills, their love, their patience at so many location changes in their lives and his immense gratitude for their support to his career.

Even when not speaking to him for long periods he would be on the phone with me from time to time. And there he was again and again, that clear and relieving voice of the guy of the early morning calls who knew exactly what to say or what to do at the very right moment.

"Life is good, the sun is shining."

 

Good bye bubba, you will be forever with us.

Anna Valderrama

I’ll always remember the first time I met Victor. I had been called to edit for a Reuters client. It was a huge story, Chris Hani’s assassination. This was my very first “real-life” news edit. Of course, nobody knew that. I walked, terrified into the Reuters bureau – and you know how daunting it can be to enter a newsroom – even if you work there! And there was Victor. He was the bureau chief at the time, but that didn’t stop him being Victor; friendly, welcoming, kind, encouraging even. He showed me where everything was and invited me to please call on him if I had any questions. That was who Victor was.

 

Victor and I crossed professional paths again, this time about 15 years later in the U.S.A. He was in Washington, Head of the Americas at Reuters. I was a freelance producer at the Reuters New York bureau. And I was also freelancing for the BBC at the time. One day at Reuters, the phone rang. I answered in my most polite voice, “Hello, BBC!” Guess who was on the other end of the line? All Victor could muster in his speechlessness was, “BBC??!!!”

Tara Cleary

“Dave the Wave” the deep voice would come booming across the room, unmistakably Victor Antonie’s.

 

The beer would start flowing (the words coming faster than the beer).

 

Then the 12 year old Macallan.

 

Then it gets hazy.

 

What a guy. We rarely met over the past years, separated by the continent of Africa, but as old friends, our meetings always felt like yesterday that we’d last seen each other. Victor Antonie – larger than life,  a gentle man in the truest sense of the word, and always a solid professional at work.

 

Above all, a good man and a great friend.

 

Gone too soon, what a loss.

 

My heart goes out to Freddy and the kids and the rest of the family.

 

I salute you comrade Victor.

 

Rest in Peace.

Dave Copeland

What can I say? He was a hugely warm human and I always jumped at the opportunity to work with him.

 

We were at Reuters at the same time and I loved the way he nurtured and defended his staff. I often wished that he was my boss -- he was a true mentor of the highest order. He taught me a lot about South Africa, and about journalism.

 

The journalistic community has lost a beautiful soul.

Judith Matloff

It was way to early and although I have not seen Victor for many years it feels like yesterday. 

 

From the outpouring of messages and love I can see what a great man he is snd he will be remembered for ever. 

 

My happy funny recollection was after a BBC/Visnews driving course. We were trashing so many cars in the townships so we were sent on advanced driving courses. Not long after this I was with Victor in Durban on a story. We had a red convertible BMW which was perfect for filming out of. After a day in the unrest we went out for an early evening drink along the Durban marine parade.  The roof was down and it a lovely summer evening. Victor spotted a parking spot directly outside the bar we wanted to visit. There were a few people standing outside waiting to go in. 

 

I saw this as an opportunity to practice my newly acquired skills and did a huge hand break turn and with tyres screeching somehow managed to perfectly  park in the spot Victor pointed out. Victor roared with laughter snd thought it was the funniest thing seeing everyone’s reaction on the pavement as we left the car and walked into the bar. It was such fun and we had a fab evening. 

 

I admired his news hound approach. I never met anyone who did not love him. 

 

Peter Henderson

Victor était plus qu’un patron pour moi, c’était un ami, un conseiller, un collègue. Au moment où j’étais sur le point de baisser les bras, il m’avait motivé et encouragé à continuer à travailler.

 

Le 25 Novembre 2019 à Nairobi, il m’a montré la joie de bien travailler en me présentant à tout le monde pour mon reportage qui avait été le 2ème au monde.

 

Le 23 Janvier 2020 à Nairobi, la dernière fois qu’on s’est rencontré, il me disait en présence de Jackson Njehia, un collègue de Nairobi : « Tu travailles bien, j’aime bien la façon dont tu filmes, continue comme ça produit et innove plus ».

 

Le 22 février 2021 il m’a appelé à 13h57 alors que je couvrais une histoire sur terrain à Goma, pour me dire : « Écoute moi bien Djaffar, je veux que nous soyons le premier à diffuser cette information, je veux que tu sois le premier au monde. Rassure toi que Reuters diffuse avant tous les médias »; 1 heure plus tard il m’a écrit « fantastique » et le soir il m’appellera pour me dire « Tu as été fantastique, bon boulot aujourd’hui », et c’est la dernière fois que j’ai entendu sa voix.

 

Le destin a fait que les dates de 22, 23 et 25 de différents mois et différentes années soient les plus marquants de notre vie professionnelle commune, bien qu’avec lui, chaque, chaque message, chaque communication était plein de joie, d’amour et d’espoir.

 

Que son âme repose en paix !!!

Sabiti Djaffar

Al Katanty

One of my favourite memories of Victor was visiting him when he was Chief Producer for Sub Saharan Africa at Reuters in Joburg  - I was there with some key footage relating to the Oscar Pistorius trial – and  he was a delight to work with  – fast and clever and organized – he was of course  a real mensch – one of those in the international news business with heart and soul –

 

May the work he did to empower young journalists live on – viva Victor , viva.

Jane Lipman

Victor was very special to me. He was larger than life and he was an excellent example on how to live life. He was always full of fun. 

 

One of my fondest memories was a wedding we attended a few years ago.

It was in the Midlands and freezing cold. Victor and Freddie looked me up where we were huddled in a quaint pub trying to keep warm.

They joined us and after a while we discovered that our chalets were next to each other.  We left the pub in a hurry and went back to the chalets where we partied into the night and had the cars radio on full blast booging to most of the tunes in weather that was in the minus degrees.

I remember that evening was filled with laughter, jokes, fun and much chatting.

His love for his wife and children never went unnoticed.

Let us remember Victor on his new journey.

 

His journey has just begun:

Don’t think of him as gone away –

His journey has just begun,

Life holds so many facets –

This earth is only one

 

Just think of him as resting

From the sorrows and the tears

In a place of warmth and comfort

Where there are no days and years

 

Think how he must be wishing

That we could know today,

How nothing but our sadness

Can really pass away.

 

And think of him as living

In the hearts of those he touched for nothing loved is ever lost –

And he was loved so much.

 

-author unknown-

Dominique Yazbek

I first met Victor over 30 years ago, when he was a young 20 something working for Visnews in Joburg. Even then, he was passionate about news, always on the move and in a hurry, never still, very confident and had an answer for everything. Not really knowing him, I actually thought him quite brash, a bit of a Jack the Lad.

One morning he came into the NBC News office looking much the worse for wear. I joked that he looked terrible- he’d obviously been out on the tiles all night, no sleep, and it showed!

Victor said that actually, he hadn’t had any sleep - because his little baby Gabriel was very sick and he and his wife Freddie had been up all night with him. They had tried everything to settle him and stop him crying, but nothing seemed to work. Victor was beside himself with worry in case there was something seriously wrong with his child. For once, Victor didn’t have the answer – didn’t know what to do for the best – and he was quite distraught. At that moment I saw a very different side of him and realised that I had got him all wrong. Victor was actually a very caring family man, a loving husband and doting father.

Some years later, Victor’s career had taken off, and his family had grown. One night, during a visit to Kenya, I had dinner with Victor and Freddie at their home in Nairobi. Before we sat down to eat, Victor took me upstairs to see the little ones who were already in bed and fast asleep. First we peeped in on Gabriel, then into the nursery to see his two sisters, little Pascal – so like her Dad – and baby Lili. Such cherubic babies, fast asleep and in the dim glow of the night light, looking like little angels. Three very beautiful children – sleeping the sleep of the innocent. Victor and I stood by Lili’s cot, sharing a very special moment, and Victor turned to me and whispered …. I am so lucky, I am so blessed! And he was.

 

Victor may have lived and breathed news, and his passion for his work was all-embracing, but his greatest love was always his family. He was so proud of them and they truly meant the world to him.

Sue Burt

I will always  remember meeting  Victor , from Visnews,  while I was working  at the SABC ( calling me Pop).  Always in a rush to get overnight footage  from the SABC, getting it first....


Then moving into the Visnews reception area with Mexican TV I had the chance of meeting  Freddy and the children as they grew up. As much of a  rush he always was in, he always slowed down just that bit for his family and it showed them he loved them.

 

Rest in Peace Victor  You will always be remembered fondly.

Annemarie Meijer

Dear Victor Antonie,

You were my direct boss, but you were way more than that.

You were my mentor, my coach, my cheerleader and my confidence booster.

Waking up on Friday, March 5 to the news of your death was the last thing I could ever have imagined.

That Friday was supposed to be a happy Friday Africa.

We were all looking forward to the mail about the week’s best stories.

You were supposed to read it, not feature in it.

I am heartbroken, team Nigeria is distraught.

But I am glad to know that Africa made you proud on your very last day in this world.

That win was you, and we will continue to win more stories for Reuters in your honor.

Continue to rest in power.

Angela Ukomadu

I first met Victor when he and Freddy arrived in Joburg, ready to take the big city by storm. At that stage, Victor was already showing entrepreneurial tendencies, and was producing belts and other brightly coloured goods for the Joburg markets.

 

Soon, they moved into a flat in our building, Winchester Court, in Bellevue. Their first child, Gabriel, was born in that time, and I remember popping in to celebrate his arrival. We found him ensconced in a drawer in a chest in their bedroom, as the young couple did not have a small enough crib for him. Victor moved on to work for the foreign media, but I chiefly remember him from those days as a bright-eyed, cheerful and energetic presence in our friend group.

 

He was already a devoted family man, adored Freddy, and was a force in the kitchen. Later, when he and Freddy returned to Johannesburg, he was open to requests from us at Wits Journalism to allow some of our students to intern at the Reuters newsroom, where he pushed them to do their best.

 

I have been hearing from former students - now journalists across Africa - all week. Their sense of loss is palpable, but they also cannot help remembering Victor with a smile.

Victor, your generosity of spirit will not be forgotten, but you will be much missed.

 

There are few like you. 

Lesley Cowling

Victor, or Vicky as he was known to us as a young boy, was a complexity of many characteristics : he had a huge passion for adventure, travelling, new experiences, for good food, especially Lebanese food ! and above all his interest in people and love for his fellow man.

Since his youth we came to know this nephew and cousin of ours as a boy who lavishly shared his friendship, compassion, love and fun with everyone who crossed his path. He was always ready to soak up more knowledge about things happening around him in the wider world, enjoyed meeting new people all over our planet and in turn he would generously share his own wide knowledge, insight and wisdom with so many over the years.

During the last few years our contact with Vic was regrettably very limited but at family gatherings – where we did manage to connect with him and Freddie and the children – it was always the very best occasion to be in Vic’s company. He WAS the party ! As a young boy he was lively, VERY lively ! , full of mischief and so loved by his parents and siblings – and of course his bigger family too. In the background was always Grandpa Victor, Grandma Freda, all his numerous aunts, uncles and cousins who enjoyed this busy young man and his warm, sunny nature !

The fruits of his nurturing upbringing in Kroonstad had the wonderful benefits that, in turn, this young boy grew up to become a loyal, loving, caring husband to his beloved Freddy and his dear children…. and always a much treasured member of the Yazbek and Antonie families.

When remembering this dear nephew of ours, we have seen in Victor’s life the reality that life and love is not about what you gain, it is about what you give. And he was such a giver ! That is such a Priceless heritage that he leaves with all of us.

With all our love from : Peter, Carlen, Victor, Carl and Grace

Peter & Carlen Yazbek

I remember going to Mass in Kroonstad when we were young children and Uncle Maroonie would sit in the front row with Adrienne, Helen, Michael and Victor. Aunty Olive would be playing the organ filling the church with glorious singing. My family would always sit in the pew behind.

 

On this particular occasion, while Uncle Maroonie was deep in prayer, we noticed Victor take out his pea shooter and aim it directly at Fr Mendel who was just getting into his homily. However before he could do any damage my father grabbed Victor from behind and confiscated the “weapon”. Victor certainly turned a very ordinary Sunday into one which I still remember. May you rest in peace Victor and continue sharing your good sense of humour with all the angels and saints! 

Nicky Antonie

I had not seen nearly enough of Victor over the last few years but actually had a call with him last Thursday. And that call just made the news more shocking and devastating because he was his usual, energetic, charismatic, engaging self. I don't know if you remember but it was Victor who gave me a job when I came back to South Africa in 1994 and although we always kept in contact -  as I say - with our travels and busy lives we didn't see each other enough socially. And that was why I was surprised at how much the news of his passing affected me me. Other people have said the same thing. I think it was - in part - because he was so dynamic and positive and energetic but there was something else.

Victor worked in a cut throat business. He was very, very good at his job and as competitive as they come. But he managed to conduct himself with such good humour and grace that I've never heard anybody say a bad word about him. He always used to say to me: "Alan Hird (for some reason he addressed me by my full name) don't trust me I will screw you over". But I trusted him implicitly. He was a person of honour and as you would know, deeply loyal to those around him. He leaves a big, big and very unfair hole. I am sorry I am out of town and can't be with you this coming weekend but again my thoughts are with you and the rest of the family.

Alan Hird

I remember the great time we all had in Pakistan: Victor at the helm, like a human whirlwind, galvanizing and inspiring everyone with his enthusiasm and genuine excitement. His empathy, compassion and great sense of adventure and fun.  

He touched so many peoples’ lives and made an unforgettable mark whether he met them briefly or knew them for years. I can only imagine the conversations going on now in all corners of the world as the news sinks in. Maybe even the Taliban are remembering and mourning him right now.

Honestly, what an utter tragedy and waste.

Suzanna Woods

Keef boetie!

You brought so much love & joy to our lives from as far back as I can
remember. I can see you so clearly in so many of my memories.

You taught me how to fly cast in your driveway in Aspen road while you
politely directed traffic around us. 

You showed me such incredible sights in Israel & made sure we tried every
falafel we came across to find the best one.

I will never forget your wonderfully unique sense of style from your hats &
waist coats to your socks & sandals.

You always opened up your home to me & allowed to share your family with
you.

You taught me to value having people around your camp fire.

If you could only see how many you have around yours right now!

Missing you already Uncle Vic.

Mally

Malcolm Keyser

Death said quietly, “Cry, Heart, but never break. Let your tears of grief and sadness help begin new life. Then he was gone." -  Glen Ringtved

It is with a smile in my heart that I honour my brother, Victor.

As children, Victor was my “partner in crime”.  He was the closest in age to me.  We played together, baked together, laughed together, shared secrets and yes, we fought, as siblings do.  

When Victor was 14 years old, he was already hitting the nightlife with his young mates.  I thought they were SO cute and desperately wanted to go out with them.  No chance - I was only 8 years old.  I had to stay at home with my sisters, Adie and Helen.  What a letdown.  I couldn’t wait to hear from Victor on his arrival home, who was there, where they had been; what they had done…  Oh! How I wish I could have gone along.

My dad once asked a young Victor if he wanted to become a priest.  Victor said no, he wanted to be the Pope.  My dad asked him why, and he confidently replied:  "I want to be the Pope because I want to give all the money in the Vatican to the poor people."

Victor had heart, a BIG beautiful heart.  He always respected me, not only as his little adorable, fabulous sister, but also as his colleague, and sometimes as his opponent.  I always felt at home with Victor.  If ever I was going through a bad time, I knew that I could rely on him, at any time of the day or night, to help me. And he did.  

Whilst on assignment producing for ABC News in Baghdad, there were nights after nights that I was so frightened, hearing bombs going off and not knowing what was happening.  The only person in the whole world who could help me, was Victor and he did.  I phoned him at some ungodly hour in Singapore where he was living, and he immediately calmed me and talked me through my stress.  

In many ways in my life, he replaced my late dad. Victor had the best of my dad’s traits and the best of my mom’s traits.  A beautiful combination of a human being.  I could count on his generosity of spirit, his wise and wonderful counsel, and I immediately felt better.  I walked away feeling empowered, knowing that Victor had my back and that he was only a phone call away.  He was consistently kind to me, and always made me feel valued. For all the above, I salute and honour him today.

In turn, over the many years, Victor often sought my counsel too and many times he took my advice and he would call to tell me same and to thank me.  

Victor melted my mom’s heart.  She adored him and her face always lit up when she saw him. She would say:  Hello, my sweetheart!  This journey of mourning makes it extra challenging for me, as in the interest of my mom’s health, we have decided not to inform her about Victor’s passing.  I look at my lovely, happy, content, beautiful mom every day and it gnaws at my inner core, knowing that her son is no longer alive.  It is fiercely hard, as parents are not supposed to bury their children.

Victor and I were fortunate to have had two families:  our traditional one and the all-mighty international media fraternity, to which we both belonged for 3 decades. 

 

We equally enjoyed working with our colleagues and we always had fun and crazy times in the newsroom and in the field.  I loved working with Victor and I loved watching him at work.  He was his own TV show.  We always learnt something from Victor when he was in action.  He had quirky ways about him, and at times his funky dress code left much to be desired but that was Vic! My colourful brother.

I am forever grateful that I had the wonderful opportunity of working with Victor for 3 decades.  He could produce a story like no other.  It was an experience that can never be repeated.  He was an incredible operator with the most wonderful sense of humour.  Most of the accolades and the praises that people have been singing about him, I witnessed firsthand!  Victor was a journalist, but he was a human being first, with an incredible work ethic.  

Now on a very important topic a Four-letter word:  FOOD!

His passion for food, at all times, did not leave much to the imagination. 

When we were on assignment together in Pakistan in 2001, Victor even considered bribing the dreaded Taliban with creamy puff pastries!  On another occasion: 

I arrived at our hotel one evening, after having spent gruelling hours in the countryside of Rwanda.  …  and where did I eventually find Victor?   I found him in a scruffy, roach invested kitchen, teaching the Rwandan chefs how to make Hummus HIS way. Those poor chefs!   Victor found pleasure in life wherever he went and his joy spilled over you if you were nearby.  

Victor’s pride and joy were his family.  Family First was what it was all about for Victor.  He adored Freddy and his 3 children Gabriel, Pascal and Lili, and always warmly embraced Gabe’s partner, the Giulia.  Nothing was ever too much trouble for him.  He was a proud family man, and a dad who gushed about his kids. In May, Victor would have been a grandpa, and he was looking So forward to being called Grandpa Vic by Gabriel and Giulia’s little one.  

I will conclude by sharing the two lessons Victor taught me in life and which I try to practice: 

Don’t get sucked into office politics, put your head down and work hard.  You don’t know when you will need somebody, someday …

and 

Don’t get seduced by people; adults never change.

Love you madly Vic! Fly with the angels wherever you are.  God Bless you and keep you.

I will forever miss you.

Cecile Antonie

I did not know Victor as well as most of the people writing about him here.I got to know him when I was was working for LATAM in Mexico and he was the Senior Producer for the whole "Americas".

When he came to visit Mexico we showed him around the City and I remember he repeatedly talked about needing some Mexican art and Handcraft gift for his family.Family that was a word I heard often from him.

I was so tremendously shocked when I heard of his to sudden death, and so moved for his family.

4 years after his visit to Mexico my contract with LATAM was about to end, and I was trying to go back to my home because my family had left Mexico 3 years earlier so my daughter could go to university.

Despite initial difficulties and budgetary problems , Victor moved mountains to make it happen.

"Family is the most important thing !" he said, the words I heard so many years ago, but now it was about my family!

I don't know where my family and I would be without his intervention.

Victor I think I never really thanked you enough!!!

For me you will always be the symbol of family values and warmth in a sometimes hard and cold news world.

Ollie Ellrodt

If there is one memory of Victor which I forever will cherish, it is an Easter Sunday morning at the home of Gramps and Grandma in Kroonstad.

I was 9 years old, if I recall, and earlier that day, my brother Carl and I had hunted for Easter eggs throughout the garden and within the flower beds around the front.

Uncle Maroonie, Aunty Ol and the children arrived after Mass that Sunday, while I was sitting on the stoep. Victor came up to me, and in a hushed tone asked if I had just seen the Easter Bunny. Somewhat intrigued I looked at him, since I was at the age when Father Christmas, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny were slowly fading from fact into fiction.

But Victor seemed dead serious.

“There”, he said confidently, pointing to the far end of Gramps and Grandma’s garden. “There”, he said again. “Look carefully and you will see the Easter Bunny’s ears peeping over the shrubs”. Disbelief transformed into awe when I actually saw the ears that Victor pointed to. I remember darting off to tell Carl that I had indeed seen the Easter Bunny in the garden. He never doubted me for one second.

We were so enthralled at this fantastic discovery, that I remember exploring the garden again, yet this time we were looking for the Easter Bunny’s tracks and even trying to peer into the neighbor’s garden in order to catch another glimpse of the elusive hare.

 

That day, my much older cousin Victor renewed a young boy’s sense of wonder and awe in the magical truths of life, and reminded me to never stop believing in the impossible.

I have never forgotten that day. And I never will.

Victor Yazbek

I first met Victor when we were lost, 1st year boys at Clifton Nottingham Road prep school. We were starting at a new boarding school far away from home and we were at the bottom of the pecking order.

What struck me immediately was that this small boy from the far away and exotic Orange Free State was unintimidated and had a good dose of composure. The other remarkable thing was  that he was already a devoted fly fisherman so at a school with notoriously awful food it always paid to sit at Victor’s table on a Sunday evening.

Victor was always his own man he never had to pose and strut his machismo as was so common among so many young men in our environment.

We went on to high school together and over the years that followed we became close friends, drawn to each other by our mutual interest in reading, politics, sport and our unquenchable appetite for exploring not only the wonderful environment around us but more importantly the world of ideas. We talked endlessly, we questioned conventional wisdom, prejudice and the warped system that had put us in such a privileged position. Not that we didn’t appreciate the amazing opportunities that our privilege offered us. As young adults our engagement with the social and political issues of our time drew us closer and although we initially followed different career paths we managed to spend a lot of time together. 

I had the privilege of watching from the sidelines as Victor met Freddie, the love of his life and the partner with whom he has built an amazing family and shared such a rich life.

In 1989 Victor put his business in Johannesburg on hold and came up to Namibia where I had settled myself to develop my budding freelance television career. He leapt straight into journalism and as we all know he took to it like a duck to water. He was competitive, relentlessly hard working, had an instinct for the story and what he didn’t know he quickly found out. 

On a personal level Victor always had an unwavering integrity, he lived by his principles without ever being pious or judgmental. He treated all people equally and with the greatest respect, enough respect to tell you if he thought that you were being a fool sometimes. 

His devotion to his family came first but he found time for his friends and colleagues.

Freddie, Gabriel, Lilli and Pascale I mourn the loss of an extraordinary man with you.

To all of you friends and family Marika and I join you in bidding farewell to our dear friend Victor he will live on in the wonderful memories we have of our times together.

Simon Standford

salt rock 1982.jpg

If I think about Victor I have a vivid imagine of him sitting on your parents veranda in Kroonstad, on those white iron cast chairs at Christmas with all the family gathered round and him telling a joke/ story and everyone happily laughing. 

 

His genuine love, appreciate and care for his entire family was evident in the way he interacted with everyone, from the littlest to Grandma and Gramps. His adoration and love for Freddie and his beautiful children just continued to grow over the years, which he proudly showed. 

 

He was always so well spoken and had the most interesting, entertaining stories and funniest jokes, that he shared with us all so freely, as well as all the amazing experiences he had whilst living abroad in the different countries. Never a dull moment with Vic around :)  His passion, enthusiasm and optimism for life was infectious, just like his laugh! 

 

The world is definitely a sadder place without him in it. Yet we know that he touched so many peoples’ lives. All our lives have been made richer by him being a part of it!

 

Rest In Peace dearest Vic. We love you and will miss you! 

Grace Yazbek

CHILDHOOD MEMORIES

 

Victor Joseph Antonie, my first cousin, two years younger than me, was a larger than life, people’s person, always up to mischief - with a twinkle in his eye. 

 

I grew up in Welkom which is only about 60km away from Kroonstad, where Victor grew up, which meant that we spent lots of good times together. The Antonie and Haddad families shared many family holidays, of which two especially stick out in my mind, with specific memories of Victor.

 

The one was when we stayed in the Windemere apartments in Durban and Victor, Michael and my brother John (the ringleader) threw a glass full of water and ice over the balcony, and nearly hit somebody down below! They got into big trouble for that! 

 

The other memory is when we all went to Numbi in the Kruger National Park, and uncle Maroonie caught Victor, who was no more than maybe eight years old, smoking. He was punished, along with John and Michael, who were also partaking in the incident.

 

Victor had a real passion for life and was a dedicated husband and father. He will be sorely missed by us all, but we will always remember him with great fondness.

 

RIP darling Vic xxx

Renee Levenson 

Rutie Zuta

On his first day at the Jerusalem bureau, Victor showed up wearing one of his funny berets. Just like his huge smile, the Antonie wardrobe immediately stood out:  an impressive collection of floral shirts, hats and scarves, and the socks…. Boy, the socks. One morning, soon after he arrived in Jerusalem, I noticed his unmatching socks sticking out.  Victor looked at my embarrassed stare and said: “once they get out of cycle, they never go back”.

This was the moment I knew he was not going to be an ordinary boss.

 

Victor came to Jerusalem at a time of great hope for us all in the Middle East. For a short while, we were one big happy family: dinners in Jerusalem, parties in Ramallah, Shisha on the beach in Gaza. Victor fit right in and was the glue that held us all together: a funny, crazy storyteller, with an amazing sense of humor that could fool any stranger to think it belongs to a cynic Israeli, or Palestinian. Take your pick.

 

Life at the office under Victor’s leadership was never boring. There were no silent, awkward moments. Busy days on the desk ended up with us rolling in laughter at his office. And then, endless conversations about everything: politics, Arabs, Jews and, of course, the Victor philosophy on life itself. “Zuti”, he once told me in his animated way, “there are two, 5-word sentences to live by: tell-some-one-who-cares, and what’s-in-it-for-me”. And victor lived by his mantras in a very unique way. He lived good and did good to others. He cared about everybody, all the time: he knew our partners, met our parents, and was immensely broody over the new office babies.

 

Victor’s family was immediately ours, too. On a night out in Jerusalem, we nearly ran over the Antonie kids who were impatiently waiting outside a restaurant at the center of Jerusalem, jumping and screaming. On another weekend, Victor ceremoniously invited us to his favorite Lebanese restaurant in Ein Karem. The Antonies were running late (what’s an hour between friends) and Victor showed up with Pasci, ordered her to “entertain them”, and disappeared again. She did a fine job, the Antonies showed up at eventually, and we still use this phrase whenever we want our own daughters to kill time for us.

 

Since the terrible news hit us early on Friday morning, I’ve reconnected with many old Reuters friends. I spoke to Mark in China, Hisham in Jordan, Ahmed in Dubai, Idit and Eli in Israel, Don in the U.S and Angie in London. This is the real Victor legacy. The legacy that brought us all together, from all over the world, for telling stories, for laughing, for loving each other. I wish you were here to watch this Victor. I’ll miss you so much.

 

Rutie Zuta

Tel Aviv

Paul Eckert 

I will never forget how Victor, who lived only a mile from me, helped me through the roughest patch of my adult life — a true midlife crisis — by dropping by every evening after work for a sip of scotch and high-spirited conversation. This warmth and generosity came at a time when his life was not free of trouble.

I can still hear the rising pitch of his voice, the laughter and enthusiasm, the turns of phrase, and the South African accent that was easy on the ears.

Victor could “MacGuyver” his way out of complicated crises in news and make things and people work and make great things happen. He could always make lemonade out of the lemons that were on hand.

I am struggling to create lemonade out of the unfortunate lemons everyone who loves Victor was dealt a week ago.

The best I can come up with is to honor Victor by paying it forward in the myriad ways he helped people and never forgetting to tell people how much they mean to you.

I will try my best at that going forward.

Peace

Noreen Jameel

My deepest condolences to the whole family. Totally shocking to hear the news about Victors sudden passing.

 

Like so many others Victor gave me my big break in TV News and some 20 years on his energy for the story has never left me.  You can never forget Victor once you meet him.

 

For me, starting out his personality seemed to span the continent. I was absolutely taken with his passion and love for adventure and its kept me in news for two decades.

 

1994 I ended up on the print desk at Reuters in Nairobi after hustling myself a work experience placement. Victor scooped me up into the tiny RTV corner of the office in Finance House and I never looked back.

 

I’ve worked with some amazing folks simply because Victor had an eye for talent and so many have gone on to have amazing careers in their own right.

 

Africa was a special place during those years and so many careers were made covering one huge story after another. We lost friends and colleagues, we had adventures, we had fun....those days have been an enormous influence on my life ...

 

Reuters TV always led the way under Victors steady hand. I feel ancient retelling stories of running to feed points lugging a massive deck and a bottle of whisky to expedite our entry to state run TV stations...... the business has changed so much.

 

Victor as many have said before me was a force of nature, a Tsunami that sucked so many of us along with him.

 

Rest in peace old friend.