VOC’s gentle, humble giant Jamiel Wallace has departed. The 70 year old stalwart presenter died on Monday afternoon, after a short illness. Affectionately known as Boeta Jamiel or JW, the radio personality was well known to listeners as the host of the early morning breakfast show for many years, before going onto semi-retirement. In his later years, he hosted the evening show Talking Point, Friday Naseega and prior to his retirement, ended his tenure at VOC on Sunday Live.
After serving as the secretary of Nurul Huda masjid in Belhar, Boeta Jamiel started in night radio in 1998. Former VOC station manager Imam Allie had a close friendship with him through their involvement in the masjid and after noticing his talkative and outgoing personality, urged him to volunteer at the radio station.
A people’s person, Boeta Jamiel had a unique ability to interact with people from all backgrounds, from religious clerics, community activists to businessman and politicians. But it was his natural warmth, charisma, and great sense of humour that cemented his bond with VOC listeners, especially the elderly.
Boeta Jamiel was a versatile presenter and was adept in politics, community issues and current affairs.
“Boeta Jamiel read the paper religiously…he could tell you everything that was the in paper for the day. I’ll always remember the image of him sitting behind the mic with the newspapers laid out in front of him and a cup of coffee. He had great insight into South African politics and knew how to make politics relevant to the listener,” said VOC news editor Tasneem Adams.
Seasoned VOC broadcaster Shafiq Morton agrees:
“He was a reader, in the true sense of the word. Ten years ago, we didn’t have internet on our phones and access to quick information. But his information was always first-hand…because he talked to people. He always had a newspaper under his arm.”
On connecting with his listeners, Adams said Boeta Jamiel had a knack for bringing the story back to the listener and for weaving his own experience into a discussion. He also had a unique ability to chat “for days”.
“Boeta Jamiel would often stand in my office and talk about anything and everything. It was a running joke sometimes that he just wouldn’t stop talking, especially when you’re on deadline. But I always appreciated the value he added to our newsroom. Even when he was in retirement, he would often call me with news stories or to chat about a political event. He just had so much passion…”
The sprightly presenter would be at the station at 5am each morning to prepare for his breakfast show at 6am. Boeta Jamiel was always the consummate professional, putting in the necessary research before every interview and brainstorming story ideas with his producers.
Former Breakfast Beat producer Dorianne Arendse shared a special bond with Boeta Jamiel.
“After every show, we’d have a cup of coffee and have long chats about everything,” she said.
“You can give him any topic, and he had a way of getting into it and breaking it down. When we did the outside broadcasts at the State of the Nation, Boeta Jamiel would easily strike up a conversation with the ministers and the MP’s…it was so amazing to see.”
Boeta Jamiel’s ability to ad-lib was put to good use on air, especially during the Eskom power outages of 2008.
“What a legend…one man, one microphone, no jingles or ads or music and he kept VOC on air by just talking! Allah alone knows where he got the energy to talk nonstop for what felt like forever but what turned out to be something like 2 hours,” recalled former VOC news editor Shanaaz Ebrahim-Gire.
“I was also fortunate to have worked with him as news editor and the early morning bulletin producer and he always started the show off every morning with his dua.
“He was also game for anything – from OB’s on youth day to tackling community safety in Atlantis and the housing issue in Hout Bay. Whatever story we threw at him, he was always ready and willing to tackle it in a calm and dignified manner.”
One of the highlights of his career was his coverage of the hajj during 2011, which he performed with his wife Faghma. Boeta Jamiel and other hujjaj were given a beautiful send-off at the airport, during a live outside broadcast.
As we pay tribute to Boeta Jamiel Wallace, we take a trip down memory lane to his departure for his fardh hajj in 2011. Boeta Jamiel, his wife Aunty Faghma and other hujjaj, who were beneficiaries of VOC's 2011 Hajj Giveway were given a beautiful send off at the airport. What an emotional day! May Allah grant Boeta Jamiel a peaceful abode in Jannah, InshaAllah.
Posted by Voice of the Cape Radio – VOC on Tuesday, 30 May 2017
Former VOC programme manager Mishka Daries added: “Boeta Jamiel Wallace was one of those colleagues entirely dedicated to VOC. He never said no when asked to assist on air. He told us stories of his past that sounded like a drama — that’s how detailed it was and how we will remember him.”
Another former VOC broadcaster Goolam Fakier worked very closely with him from 2004 until 2013. Fakier said Boeta Jamiel had built up relationships with Ministers, premiers, government officials but most importantly the community.
Community activist Imraahn Mukaddam remembered Boeta Jamiel’s passion for consumer matters and his knowledge on the Consumer Act.
“He would contact me when dealing with tricky matters. He was a family friend of my parents and he will surely be missed. May he be rewarded for his productive contribution to Voice of the Cape and the Ummah at large Aameen,” he said.
For many VOC listeners, it was JW’s fervour for issues affecting the elderly that was most closest to his heart, especially that of social grants.
“Everything that we needed to know about the pension, it was Boeta Jamiel that would give us the information. We could always call in with our problems, and he would take it up,” said ardent listener Hajjie Nadeema.
During his down time, Boeta Jamiel enjoyed spending time with his wife Faghma, and had a close bond with his two sons, two daughters and grandchildren. His garden has always been his sanctuary, and he would spend hours caring for his flowers and plants. Boeta Jamiel had a passion for angling and would spend weekends at the coast or on the couch, enjoying the rugby or cricket.
May Allah swt grant our friend and colleague the highest place in Jannah inshAllah and grant ease and solace to his family, Ameen. VOC