Former arts editor of the Sunday Times newspaper and prolific South African film and arts critic and writer Barry Johann Ronge has died at 74 peacefully in the arms of his life partner, Albertus van Dyk.

Ronge, who retired in 2014, requested from his partner of 45 years that his death only be officially announced a week after his passing. Ronge is reported to have died from old age and natural causes.

Born in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, He completed his studies at the University of the Witwatersrand and began a teaching career at St. John’s College. He had a 10-year stint as a lecturer in literature at the University of the Witwatersrand and later became the first male journalist reporting for the Women’s Page of The Star newspaper in Johannesburg between 1980 to 1982. He was the first editor of The Star’s entertainment supplement, Star Tonight! He was loved by many for his Spit ‘n Polish column published then by the Sunday Times magazine and his Sunday-night radio show on 702 from 1989 to 2004, on which Albertus was a producer. He became a reporter for M-Net’s (DStv 101) entertainment magazine shows like Front Row and did reviews for M-Net’s Revue Plus, and later did stints fronting TV shows built specifically around him as a South African film critic.

passed away

He retired from public life in 2014 and spent the last few years in seclusion in his beloved garden sanctuary in Johannesburg. 

A well-known and highly respected media personality, journalist, broadcaster and raconteur, he was one of the country’s most widely read columnists. Spit ‘n Polish was published in what was then the Sunday Times magazine and, as he wrote in his final column on February 23 2014“For the last 27 years I have been spitting and polishing … I’m not tired of it, or bored with it. It has been a good companion, and it has given me an opportunity to observe South Africans, in the cities and the suburbs, radiating true Rainbow Nation spirit.”

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