Beloved Adventist Radio Manager in Southern Africa Dead at 47

Leaders remember him for his award-winning talent and firm commitment to mission.

Noel Sibanda, Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, and Adventist Review
Beloved Adventist Radio Manager in Southern Africa Dead at 47
[Photo: Lyndah Natty Mdluli, Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division News]

SIDmedia Adventist World Radio (AWR) station manager Sipho Kaleni died on August 1, 2022, after developing body organ complications. He was 47.

“It is hard to believe that the person behind the golden voice on the regional AWR station, powered by the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s SIDmedia, will not be there anymore,” Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division (SID) media leaders said. Born in 1975, Sipho was poised for greater things, as evidenced by his talent. An electrical engineer by profession, Sipho entered broadcasting, a passion that saw him touching many lives during his career.

Born as the youngest in a family of two boys and three girls, his eldest brother, Sizwe, recently paid tribute to him. “Sipho was our youngest brother and yet his works portrayed him as our Big Brother. He was passionate about sharing the gospel with others,” he said.

After studying electrical engineering, Kaleni started his broadcasting career with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), and later with Radio Pulpit and Power Gospel.

When it came to radio broadcasting, Kaleni was an expert in his field. During his career, the industry recognized his talent, as he was nominated for the MTN Radio Awards and the Liberty Radio Awards several times.

Within the first six months of his employment at SIDmedia, Kaleni managed to set up the local AWR station with a talented team of engineers and radio producers. His talent was evident by his leadership skills. Working hand in glove with his immediate supervisor, Saneliso Moyo, Kaleni launched AWR on March 6 in Pretoria, South Africa.

Sipho Kaleni joined SIDMedia, an institution of the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, producing Christian radio and television programs for AWR and Hope Channel, on September 1, 2021, as the station manager. It was a position he held until his death. [Photo: Lyndah Natty Mdluli, Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division News]

Kaleni’s mission was to broadly go where no other Christian radio station had gone before. On his first live broadcast on AWR, he made a calling, and Grace Maoka from Daveyton gave her life to Jesus. More miracles were to follow, as on March 30, hardly a month after the AWR radio launch, AWR SIDmedia witnessed its first baptism, of nine people.

For Kaleni, this was his mission. Supported by Michael Maforo and a pool of dedicated young broadcasters, he continued promoting radio ministry. In April, 10 more people were baptized thanks to the Adventist radio ministry. “We need to keep the main thing the main thing,” Kaleni said during the April baptismal ceremony. “I want to give glory to God for these newly baptized members. This is our mission, to point others to Christ.”

One of Kaleni’s great achievements was to put AWR on the Radio Garden App, an app that enables anybody across the globe to tune into AWR powered by SIDmedia.

Kaleni was not only a visionary but also a good teacher, who empowered and equipped all of his team members. During his two months in hospital, AWR continued to run smoothly, a sign that he had done a good job. Leaders said that his demise has left a big void in the SIDmedia team.

“I am what I am in radio broadcast thanks to brother Sipho,” one of the AWR radio producers/presenters, Zanele Zama, said.

SIDmedia chief financial officer Patience Shumba concurred. “Sipho came and delivered. He transformed our radio dream into reality. We will miss him so much.”

Kaleni was laid to rest on August 7 in Springs, Gauteng, South Africa. Hundreds of people attended the funeral to bid farewell to a man loved by so many. Family members, friends, workmates, and industry colleagues were all heartbroken as they said their goodbyes.

He is survived by his wife, Brenda, and their three children, Nozipho, Sipho Jr., and Sihle.

“The AWR SIDmedia team is grateful for the services Kaleni rendered to the organization in such a short span,” media leaders said. “We are all comforted in the promise of resurrection, as we await for that glorious day when the Lord will descend from heaven to take His own to heaven.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division news site.

Noel Sibanda, Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, and Adventist Review

Noel Sibanda, Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, and Adventist Review