Vuyo Mbuli's moving memorial service

Cape Town – "Today is an overwhelming day for the SABC family," said SABC CEO Lulama Mokhobo at the jam-packed, emotional and moving memorial service in the SABC's Renaissance Centre for Vuyo Mbuli on Wednesday.

The four-and-a-half hour service came four days after the sudden death of the beloved co-anchor of the SABC's flagship breakfast show Morning Live on SABC2.

The memorial service, which the SABC opened to the public, held at the SABC's Auckland Park headquarters drew a massive crowd as well as an outpouring of tributes from actors, musicians, dignitaries, politicians, artists and media industry heavyweights on attendance.

Many of them took to the podium to relate stories, anecdotes and tales about Mbuli who was branded an "icon" on an SABC banner beside the stage.

Clips from SABC archives Mbuli on Morning Live and other Mbuli SABC appearances were projected, while the SABC choir and Soweto children sang, violins played, and relatives spoke plainly and painfully.

GALLERY: Mourners gather for Vuyo Mbuli's memorial service

The SABC put together a moving tribute video in which Mbuli's SABC colleagues shared memories, giving insight into the big and small places across South Africa he had travelled to as Morning Live co-presenter over the past 13 years.

Leanne Manas, his Morning Live co-host for the past 9 years, was in attendance at the memorial service and said she was "flooded with memories" and lovingly called Mbuli "short, but a giant".

"This has been the hardest week of my entire life. I've lost a very big part of my life. My heart's jumping out of my body at this point in time. Vuyo was and is most of the most loved individuals in this country. He embraces and embodies everything that South Africa is about."

Manas said she believed Mbuli was still there and addressed him, saying: "I met your mother and your father, sadly, for the first time on Sunday. They cried when they saw me, Vuyo. I think they cried because I think they saw you when I walked through the door. And I saw you in them. I saw you in your father's eyes."

Tracy Going, Mbuli's first co-anchor on Morning Live, openly wept as photos spanning his career flashed on screen.

'Vuyo understood the business'

"He just made sure that you are happy coming to work and that you enjoy the experience," said Andile Masuko, the weather woman on Morning Live.

Special Assignment presenter Ashraf Garda, said Mbuli was "for me very much the Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo of the broadcasting world. What I mean by that that they are quite irresistible."

"This is a person who just loved life and loved what he did," said Generations star Sophie Ndaba.

"Every time we think of eloquence, every time we think of talent, every time we think of someone whose got the class to go along with what you want to present, we think of Vuyo."

Samm Marshall, Morning Live Weekend anchor, said: "Vuyo understood the business. He knew what morning TV was all about. It's about engaging with people; sharing your life with people; because they open up their hearts and their homes to you every morning."

"Here is a man who I can call 'sunrise'. Sunrise never ever lets you down - it's so consistent," said Yvonne Kgame, the SABC's acting head of strategy.

Bessie Tugwana, SABC2 channel head said he touched millions of ordinary South Africans and had a great work ethic.

'My children are my dream'

"Vuyo Mbuli made a huge contribution," said veteran actress Lillian Dube. "He made journalism something people aspired to be through his respect for the people he interviewed, always having that twinkle in his eye, his laugh - and he made you feel important."

"I think there's probably a lot of young people who are thinking of becoming broadcasters because of him," said Peter Ndoro, Morning Live's business anchor. "In his work I think he always tried to make South Africa a better place and he was very passionate about that."

Nothando Maseko, the executive producer of Morning Live – flanked on stage by the current and previous Morning Live crew, including Going – sang a song that Mbuli sang on set every morning. "Obviously this is not an SABC choir," joked Maseko.

"Vuyo was spontaneous, Vuyo was brave, and very unpredictable," she said.

To Mbuli's children aged 15 and 13 sitting right in front, she shared what he once told her: "Thando, my children inspire me to wake up and to be who I am. My children are my dream."