George Hallett, the veteran Cape Town photographer known for his anti-Apartheid work has died at age 78.

“My father died peacefully in his sleep today, after a long illness. We will always remember him for his light, his laughter, his boisterous personality, his outrageous jokes and being the life and soul of many a party,” his daughter Maymoena Hallett posted on Facebook on Wednesday [July 1].

“Nobody can doubt his artistry in capturing beauty and joy in everything he saw through his eyes and his lens, nor his contribution to photography, particularly South African photography. Rest In Power Papa G.”

Hallett was known for his photography of District Six during Apartheid, as well as his work during the onset of democracy in 1994. He is responsible for a wealth of footage that documented former president Nelson Mandela in his early years in office.

In 1997 he was the official photographer for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, according to News24.

Many have emphasised Hallett’s humanitarian onslaught and Cape Town’s MOMO Gallery called him a “documentarian of marginalised spaces.”

Tributes to Hallett  by other photographers poured in on social media. Take a look at some his captivating work:


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Yesterday we lost a great man, one of South Africa’s best Photographer’s and my mentor for many years. George Hallett literally changed my life when I met him in 2003. I was in my third year at Pentech studying photography, majoring in fashion, until I met George. He introduced us to documentary photography and turned my world right side up. He shared photographs he had made at Red Cross Children’s Hospital with his Leica M6 and a 35mm lens, I was completely blown away by how he made something so simple look like the most beautiful thing. I didn’t have the words to describe what I was feeling, I could only feel what I was seeing. At that moment I knew I wanted to be a documentary photographer. Soon after he took our class on a trip to a place called Genadendal, another life changing experience with the great teacher. He guided me step by step through approaching a scene. What he was really doing was opening my eyes for the first time. Everything suddenly made sense to me. The mundane became the spectacular. Kids making a fire on the side of the road to warm up before school, men standing outside a cafe, ladies chatting outside of church, two people embracing, a boy doing karate moves… I was surrounded by immense beauty all this time. George witnessed all of it for most of his life – the beauty and the hardships of our country. And he shared his wisdom so freely. If you had the chance to see his retrospective exhibition at the National Gallery you would understand the scale of this mans work. Everyone should know about and see what he has witnessed and recorded with such sensitivity. To me he was very underrated as a photographer. I am who I am today because of you, George. I honour you, and your life. My deepest condolences to his family. RIP my friend. Here are some photographs of our class trip to Genadendal. The first documentary/street photographs I ever made, guided by the great George Hallett That’s the short story of George and his influence in my life. #georgehallett #legend #leicam6 #35mmfilm #filmisnotdead #southafrica #iconic

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Saddened at the passing yesterday of legendary South African photographer George Hallett. Born in 1942, the self-taught street photographer documented life in District Six prior to its destruction under apartheid, before leaving for London in exile in 1970 where he worked for the @the.tls and exhibited with Gerard Sekoto in Paris. Through his travels he befriended and photographed many exiled South Africans, including poets, musicians, artists and writers, before he was requested by the ANC to return to South Africa to record the first Democratic Elections in 1994 (his portraits of Nelson Mandela during his presidential campaign earned him a @worldpressphoto award in 1995) and as official photographer for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1997. #GeorgeHallett #southafrica #southafricanart #districtsix #africanphotography #photojournalism

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Details about his memorial are yet to be released.

Picture: Instagram/gallerymomo

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