BY FORTUNE MBELE FORMER NewsDay Sports Editor Wellington Toni passed away on Thursday night at Harare Hospital after a long illness. He was 44. His brother, Christian, yesterday confirmed Toni’s death, saying they were arranging to take his body to Plumtree for burial on a day yet to be advised. “He died yesterday (Thursday) night in Harare. He had been unwell for some time. Arrangements are being made for him to be buried at our rural home in Plumtree,” Christian said. Alpha Media Holdings Editor-in-Chief Wisdom Mdzungairi expressed his condolences on the passing away of Toni, who left NewsDay in 2015 after working for the publication for five years. “He was a fair-minded, impartial journalist whose thought-provoking writing will remain etched in our minds. In our diary meetings, he would make sure we debated issues in a lively manner. He was very unique in the way he would handle issues. His contribution to the journalism fraternity is there for all the people to see. It is sad that we have lost him. I think because of his approach to issues, he will be sorely missed in the newsrooms and in the fraternity,” Mdzungairi said. In a statement, Sports Writers Association of Zimbabwe (Swaz) said: “Toni is the country’s first sports journalist to lose his life during this unique and uncertain period that the world finds itself in occasioned by the global COVID-19 pandemic and, as his colleagues, we extend our condolences to his family in Plumtree and to the many friends he made during his lifetime. May his dear soul rest in eternal peace.” Southern Sports Journalists Association (Spoja) chairman Muziwethu Hadebe said Toni’s death was a huge loss to sports journalism “Spoja is saddened by the passing on of one of the finest sports journalist in the country. Wellington Toni did not limit himself to football coverage, but followed all sports disciplines, a big challenge and lesson to upcoming journalists. His death is a great loss to sports journalism and we extend our deepest condolences to the Toni family,” Hadebe said. Toni was a Harare Polytechnic-trained journalist who worked at Zimpapers as Deputy Sports Editor at Chronicle and Sports Editor at Sunday News in Bulawayo before joining Alpha Media Holdings as pioneering Sports Editor of NewsDay in 2010. At the time of his death, he was working for ITNews Zimbabwe. He leaves behind two sons, Ashley and Denzel, and mourners are gathered at Number 2356 Emakhandeni in Bulawayo and at his rural home in Plumtree.