Alf Khumalo was born in Alexandra near Johannesburg. He first worked in a garage doing various jobs and then started freelancing for various publications, selling his photographs where he could. He did a lot of work for the Bantu World.
In 1956, he found a permanent position at the Golden City Post.
In 1963, while working for Drum magazine, he was selected together with Harry Mashabela to go and shoot a story about African students in the Iron Curtain countries. The two made the front cover of the next edition of the magazine, Drum men go to Europe.
Kumalo had been encouraged to enter by David Hazelhurst, the editor of Drum.
Kumalo had used his African names Mangaliso Dukuza because he wanted the judging to be impartial and not influenced by his reputation. A picture of him and his award was published by the Star on its front page. A lot of black people talked about it for days afterwards, because in those days they would only get on to the front pages of white newspapers if they were thieves.
Despite the prospect of being arrested and assaulted, Khumalo kept on taking pictures, sometimes at personal cost. David Hazelhurst recalled: One day in 1963, when I was editor of Drum magazine, Alf Khumalo walked into my office carrying a picture. It showed a burly policeman delivering a vicious kick between the legs of reporter Harry Mashabela from behind. Such was the power of the kick you could see the shape of his boot exploding through the front of Mashabela’ trousers.
It was the year of the jackboot of John Vorster, habeas corpus had disappeared, the 90-day-detention without trial Act had given policemen a license to kill and assault behind closed doors with impunity.
The police hated journalists – and photographers in particular, for their pictures portrayed the truth about an evil system, and Kumalo, despite warnings, risked a severe beating to take the Mashabela picture. He had tried to sell it to several papers with no success.
However, Hazelhurst splashed the picture across two pages of Drum.
Over the years he has photographed and documented many of the historic moments in recent South African history. These include the Treason Trial, the Rivonia Trial, the emergence of Black Consciousness, the Student Uprising of 1976 and the Codesa talks. This was despite numerous periods of detention, arrests and official harassment.
His work has appeared in international newspapers like The Observer, New York Times, New York Post, and the Sunday Independent. Locally, he also worked for Drum magazine and the long defunct Rand Daily Mail.
In order to assist the upcoming generation of South African photographers, Khumalo opened a photographic school in Diepkloof Soweto. The school offers nine month courses designed to train photographers from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Gallant photographers created images that defied apartheid; yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy writes Abel Mputing.(News)
Jun 20, 2010; BYLINE: Abel Mputing June 16 1976. A heroic day which marks our nation's seismic date with its destiny. Thirty-four years on, the...