Sunday Times & the Times scoop top investigative journalism award

THE Sunday Times and The Times won the 5th Taco Kuiper Awards for Investigative Journalism for the year 2010.

First prize went to Mzilikazi wa Afica and Stephan Hofstatter for their story on Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele and the SAPS building lease, which focused on the Police Commissioner’s influence in a R500-million lease deal with businessman Roux Shabangu without a proper tender process.

Sipho Masondo of The Times took second prize for his series of articles exposing governmental negligence in mining and the resulting impact on the environment.

“I’ve always wanted to tell things as they are; not how management wants. In journalism, I have the opportunity to [do this],” said Masondo, who hails from a public relations background.

And so he did, when he wrote one of the articles in the series, that brought to public attention the danger of acid mine drainage from toxic water -during the heavy rain period earlier this year – and the inability for Gauteng mines to pump the water out fast enough.

Wa Africa’s efforts landed him in jail last year when, along with Hofstatter, he wrote the article that exposed Cele in the police headquarters lease deal scandal.

The New York Times reporter Andrew Lehren, who delivered the keynote speech, lauded the winners.

“I was very impressed with the work I’ve seen. It was phenomenal work and brave too [as journalists are exposed to] political pressure.”

Editor and publisher of Southern African Report and former deputy chairman of the South African chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, Raymond Louw said “[It was] absolutely well deserved and totally appropriate”.

According to Mail & Guardian editor, Nic Dawes, Wa Africa and Hofstatter’s story “had to win” as it was the story of the year.

“[The win was] very richly deserved.”

Antony Altbeker, who was the first Taco Kuiper Award recipient, added that as an environmental story it was great to see Sipho win.

The Sunday Times duo landed R200 000.

“I’m getting married in November, so the money will come in handy,” said Masondo of his R100 000 prize.

 

Hope ripples in the Great Hall; Amandla!

Once a photographer always a photographer: Veteran photographer
Peter Magubane takes time to teach a photographer a thing or two

THE hope and optimism late US senator Robert “Bobby” Kennedy inspired in the hearts of South Africans during his 1966 visit was relived with the screening of the documentary, A Ripple of Hope.

Produced and directed by ex-Witsie, Larry Shore, the film transports the audience to the height of apartheid and shows how Kennedy revived people’s commitment to the struggle through his words.

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope… and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

These were the words that galvanised a generation to act and upon which the film is based.

“It was a very meaningful episode in our history. [Kennedy’s visit] provided new energy for the struggle against apartheid,” said Wits lecturer and filmmaker, Lieza Louw.

Former Witsie and The Star editor, Peter Sullivan, said of the impact of Kennedy’s visit that “most people felt apartheid was impossible to defeat; his speech changed the way I thought. I realised every act I took would make a difference”.

In the film, a young Sullivan recounts the various means The Star used to stump the government and expose its acts of repression.

Kennedy had been invited to deliver a Day of Affirmation speech by the National Union of South African Students (Nusas) which professor emeritus in sociology, Eddie Webster, described as “an act of defiance”.

Black and white alike benefited from the three-day stopover, with the senator visiting Wits, the universities of Cape Town, Durban and Stellenbosch, as well as Soweto. He had also visited then-banned ANC president Chief Albert Luthuli in KwaZulu-Natal.

Shore, who was inspired by the similarities between the US civil rights movement and the anti-apartheid struggle, plans to get the film into South African and American schools.

“I am gratified that [the story] seems to have a value in South Africa today,” he said.

The documentary will be shown on SABC1 on April 19.

Life, Above All: An emotional journey

DIRECTOR: Oliver Schmitz

CAST: Lerato Mvelase, Harriet Manamela, Kgomotso Manyaka, Keaobaka Makanyane, Aubrey Poolo

 

Life, Above All is set in an unknown township and tells a story many people prefer not to talk about. It is about deep human emotions evoked by compassion and love. A young teenager stands up to her community when they chastise her mother for falling ill. Chanda, played by Khomotso Manyaka, is a bright young girl who has to grow up too quickly and drop out of school when her mother develops full-blown Aids.

Her best friend Esther (Keaobaka Makanyane) is even worse off: already orphaned and labelled a whore by the community, she figures she might as well behave like one to survive.

The film is based on a novel, Chanda’s Secrets, by Canadian Allan Stratton. It is not entirely about Aids but about how families fit into communities and how we try to help our friends.

Chanda is forced to take care of her two young siblings after her mother Lillian (Lerato Mvelase) becomes ill with the disease and depression from the loss of her new baby.  The father plays the typical role in a rural area – he is always drunk and steals the money Lillian makes from her sewing.

 

The mother, with the help of her neighbour Mrs Tafa (Harriet Manamela), decides to leave the community and go back to her village after a sangoma tells her that the only way to get better is by fixing the past.

The film touches on various issues that affect us in South Africa: child prostitution, alcohol abuse and the superstitions that children learn from a young age.

The film will bring tears to your eyes. It is an emotional journey that is not entirely sentimental. It shares the value of friendship, forgiveness, acceptance and honesty. It reminds us about the enormous community of people infected with Aids and how we forget about them.

 

Inasmuch as a South African would view this film as ordinary, it was well received overseas because the scenes appear foreign to international audiences. It makes one want to lend a helping hand.

Marching to the queue marshal’s orders

BRAAMFONTEIN commuters catching taxis on the corner of Jorissen Street and Jan Smuts Avenue are complaining that they are forced to wait in line to board the taxis.

Commuters are made to stand in queues by two men who will not allow them to get into a taxi without their permission, resulting in many of them arriving home late. Some allege they are being harassed by the queue marshals mainly when they have ‘jumped into’ a taxi without the marshals’ approval.

Lindiwe Nkutha, who works in Braamfontein and has taken taxis from the intersection for years, said: “What can we say? We are always arguing with these queue marshals because now we have to wait and get home around 7pm.

“They are rude and sometimes say, ‘Suka la wena sdudla!’(Get away from here fatty) and want to tell us where to sit in the taxi, but it’s my money that has to pay for the taxi ride.”

When approached, one of the queue marshals claimed they started this “system” last February and the reason was to control and ease the flow of traffic at the intersection.

According to the Johannesburg secretary of the South African Taxi Association, Mr Buthelezi, “The queue marshals have been hired by the relevant association – Faraday Taxi Association – to monitor and ensure that taxis from the different branches do not collect passengers at locations they are not permitted,  because those are issues that cause conflict in the taxi industry.”

Asked if commuters had been informed of the appointing of queue marshals, he said if any commuters had complaints they should lodge them with the Faraday Taxi Association.

Taxi drivers at the intersection did not seem to have a problem picking up passengers because they sometimes pick up commuters who are not waiting in line, as before. Many of them were reluctant to comment when approached.

It seems the queue marshals and their marching orders are here to stay.

Exclusive: Malema sets the record straight

Controversial ANC youth leader Julius Malema is to some extent an enigma in South African politics. Widely known for his outlandish statements and frequent race-related remarks, Malema talks to Vuvuzela about why it is he is so misunderstood after addressing the SA Union of Jewish Students in Cape Town last week.

“I am an activist pursuing the national democratic revolution which aims at transferring power from the minority to the majority. That power is social, economic and political power. That’s who I am. I don’t want to go to parliament; I will go to parliament in 30 years. I believe parliament is for retired people,” Malema says.

Often criticised for living in Sandton while calling for the emancipation of the country’s poor, Malema says where he stays is immaterial to his pursuit for change.

“Who should stay in Sandton?” he asks, “Sandton belongs to all of us who can afford to stay there. Why should it be a criminality for a political leader to stay in Sandton?

 “What is material is my political consciousness, I am a child of a working class, I am a child of a domestic worker. I know what my mother went through, I know what I have gone through for me to be where I am, and I will never forget. But I will forgive. That is who I am.”

The youth leader says he can be an activist from anywhere. “I don’t need to shout for the transfer of power when I am in Alexandra and do it less when I am in Sandton. Our struggle is to take the people out of Alex and into Sandton.

“If we can’t take them into Sandton, then we’ll take Sandton into Alexandra and make Alex a living place with living conditions that are justifiable for human beings to live there,” he says, adding that the ANC did not struggle for people to remain in shacks in rural areas.

“That is the type of struggle we are waging, and as to who stays where is petty politics. We shouldn’t entertain material, let’s entertain ideas, let’s entertain consciousness.”

Commenting on the debate about the value of his Rolex, Malema says “society wants to engage in that topic when we have so many serious issues in this country. It’s like we are a society who are suffering from a poverty of ideas. It’s like we’re a society that exercises 5% of our minds”.

“We want to discuss what we can see, not what we think. Our society must never be a society that discusses brand names. We must discuss how to liberate our people from poverty, that’s the type of society we need to be.”

Malema says he is misunderstood because he stands opposed to the owners of the means of production.

“They own everything and they understand me but they deliberately distort me because I don’t agree with them. They own the media, they own radios, they own the economy, but I don’t care because when I took up this struggle I knew I would pay the highest price. They are not talking about me, they are talking about their own imaginations, why should I be worried about the imagination of an editor of a newspaper – that’s why they apologise to me week after week.

“We are ridiculed, but we don’t care, what we care about is our people. Do our people appreciate that this is the direction we are taking. Our people don’t read papers, our people rely on their leaders for leadership – they have never elected an editor to lead them.”

Pointing out that the youth has every reason to vote for the ANC, Malema says it is the only political party that recognises women’s rights.

“It is the ANC which has got a cabinet close to 50/50 both male and females. Where the ANC is not ruling in the Western Cape, there is a cabinet that looks like a boys’ choir, women are only recognised through a poster,” he says.

“If you want your fellow South Africans to be built open toilets, then vote against the ANC. A toilet is supposed to be a private place. People in the Western Cape where the ANC is not governing, are going to toilets with blankets. This is an organisation that doesn’t recognise human rights, the ANC has never done that, the ANC has removed people from bushes and put them into houses with decent toilets. They may not look like my toilets in Sandton but at least there is privacy.”

Malema says the ANCYL’s real struggle is over land distribution, unhappy with the idea that “80% of the population owns less than 20% of the land”.

“If you don’t know us, we are a radical youth organisation, we are not a sweetheart organisation, we are fighting for liberation, we are in a revolution,” he says.

“We want this land, but we are not going to do it the Mugabe way. We want dialogue with those who own the land so that we can live in this country peacefully as equals.”

Wits lecturer marches to beat of his own drum

RHYTHM STICKS: Justin Badenhorst performs with Hannah Wildflower and her band, just one more project highlighting his diversity.

SEATED at the back of the stage behind cymbals and snares is the humble drummer.
Drummers are responsible for providing the foundation for the rest of the band to lay their own layers on. As a result, most tend to stay in the background.

Those who can reach out past their kit, are those drummers  who make a difference. One such drummer is Wits lecturer Justin Guy Badenhorst.

Badenhorst teaches music at Wits, saying it is the university’s progressive thinking that attracted him.  However, it is his own music career that has gained him respect in the  industry.

As a freelance drummer, Badenhorst has never been tied down to any particular style or genre and, as a result, has had the opportunity to perform alongside musicians with varying influences.

His four-piece drum band, 1st Project, opened for Snow Patrol at the opening match of the IPL, has performed with 30 Seconds to Mars as well as Shaggy and has toured more than 20 countries.

Despite this success,  Badenhorstkeeps his feet firmly on the ground and behind a drum kit.

“It has never been about the fame. I know it sounds clichéd but it really is just about the music. I don’t try to worry about the whole groupie thing, nor about the money. For me just playing music is what brings me joy,” says Badenhorst.

Badenhorst also experiments artistically with his music and is involved in a number of avant-garde projects.

His project, Language 12, with legendary trumpet player Marco Wyatt, incorporates drum and bass with modern jazz to create a whole new genre of music.

It is this kind of thinking that separates himfrom other musicians who are merely trying to get rich quick and sell themselves as a package.

“All too often people don’t want to think about music, or listen to music that encourages thought,” Badenhorst says.

“People just want to feel music which takes away some of the artistic side of it. Music is an art form just like painting or poetry. When we no longer have to think about it, it ceases to be art.”

Badenhorsthas been recognised as one of the best drummers in the country and continues to perform for corporate events as well as lesser known, more artistic functions.

Check out his Facebook page as well as his projects including Donkey, 1st Project and Language 12.

STRIKE ACTION:

 Members of the One Voice of All Hawkers Association marched to the offices of the department of economic development in Jorissen Place yesterday morning. The  crowd was led by One Voice president and member of the City of Johannesburg  informal trading forum technical task team , Zakharia Ramatula. Theydemanded that deputy director of informal trading in the department, Xolani Nxulamo, receive their memorandum of grievances to hand to Johannesburg mayor Amos Masondo.

 The association is unhappy with “false promises” made by the department and complained about the Metro police harassing them and impounding their goods while giving them exorbitant fines. Ramatula said corruption was rife in the department and Nigerian hawkers were bribing officials to take the trading spaces that South African hawkers have been promised by government. He said voting in the local government elections would be a waste of time as the ANC government has failed to deliver to its people.

Software piracy still present among students

STUDENTS on campus still consider piracy a cheaper option and claim that price is not the only deciding factor in committing software piracy.

Ryan Vandenbergh, an electrical engineering PhD student, said he believes most people pirate software because of the restrictions placed on them by companies.

“You’ve paid for [software] but you don’t have access to all of it because you’re limited by technology or location- sometimes the services are restricted to some regions only.”

 Students in the school of electrical and information engineering said they did not illegally download software because the school provides them with what they require.

“The school is supportive of the things we need,” said Kyle Vorster, an electrical engineering student. “Wits has a licensing agreement with most of the software we use.”

But the masters student said this does not necessarily stop students from pirating software at home. “Some programmes can only be accessed through the Wits network, so people would pirate those programmes so they can use them at home.”

“There are free options in terms of programmes that you could use, but people just don’t know where to get it from,” said Shamil Morar, another masters student.

Dr. Stephen Levitt, a software engineering lecturer at Wits, said students who pirate software probably do it for economic reasons. “I’ve seen a lot of articles on software piracy and they never mention that there are a lot of other free options available,” he added.

All students interviewed said they would legally buy software but they understood why people found pirating cheaper. “The price of software in South Africa is so high, as it has to go through customs etc,” said Morar.

 “At the moment Wits is researching various methods – in terms of making sure that computers on campus have the correct software,” said Greg Sulej, who works in IT support at Wits. He said Wits has measures in place that limit software piracy on campus, but suspects that it still happens anyway.

South Africa has the lowest reported piracy rate in Africa at 35%, with countries like Zimbabwe at 92% and Zambia at 82%, according to Business Software Alliance.

“I want a red gown too”

SO the thing is, I graduated this past weekend in Grahamstown and out of all the lovely memories and stories I want to share with you, the most outstanding one is about the red gown. Rhodes University’s PhD gown is a red academic robe accompanied by a velvet cap. When I heard the PhD students’ dissertations being read out and watched as they were being capped, hooded and receiving their doctorate caps, I felt an urge.

Already dressed, capped and hooded by Chancellor Jakes Gerwel, I felt like a little achiever. But when the time came for the newly declared doctors of philosophy in their specific fields, I felt a tinge of envy. I felt as though someone had just left a diamond necklace with my name on it, at the tip of Mount Kilimanjaro.  

I really want the necklace (red robe), and I’m sort of halfway up the (academic) mountain but just thinking about continuing the uphill hike is not only daunting, but to a ‘not-so-eager-beaver’ like myself I would much rather watch someone else reach the top – on DVD, sitting on a couch eating popcorn.

Anyway, I really want to wear that red robe, and that’s what I was thinking about all weekend while I was there celebrating my undergraduate degree. It’s the first step toward getting to that red robe, the first phase towards reaching the top of my academic mountain and adorning myself with the diamonds, my red robe.  

My mother has an unfortunate habit of ‘taking the fizz outta the pop’ and a classic example of this was on our return from the little nerdy town when she says, “I just hope that after these celebrations and ceremonies, all these graduates get jobs.” What a mood-killer. So there you have it; my trip to the peak of Kilimanjaro has been halted by a mother who wants to reap the rewards of four years of investment in her last born.

I want to wear a red gown too, but it will come in time. Honours is not a joke, I doubt masters is soft on one either, so I’ll give the red robe some alone time before I announce our permanent matrimony.

Niqab law uncovered

Muslim women in France are banned from wearing a full-face veil in public from this week.

On Monday, April 11, a new law passed by the French government came into effect, banning Muslim women from wearing a niqab in public. A niqab is a full-face Muslim veil, while a scarf that covers a woman’s hair is called a hijab.

The Muslim Student Association’s (MSA) Zaakim Mayed, who is in charge of the prayer room (musallah), says Muslims believe in the concept of “ummah” – we are all family and we must protect one another, wherever we are.

They are planning a campaign against Islamic phobia on campus – to issue a statement, put up posters and raise awareness. 

Mayed says the French state is infringing on human rights by intervening in the dress code of a minority of 2000 people who wear a niqab and choosing what they must wear.

A few Wits Muslim students say Muslims in France must fight against the law, suggesting “a passive protest, such as deciding to wear a scarf on a specific day”.

Physics PhD student, Badr Mohammed, says, “Follow the country’s rules and do not challenge that, if there’s only wine to drink, you drink it.”

Offenders will be fined €150 (about R1 400) if they are found to be in contradiction of the new law that any woman who steps out of the house wearing a veil will be fined.

The South African Constitution states that everyone has the right to freedom of religious conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion.  

Naaf-rah Mohammed, a 2nd year BSc student, says the French law infringes on people’s religious rights.  “Wearing a niqab, it’s not compulsory but a choice made. It’s rewarding as it increases your stage in heaven.”

Second year BA student Ruqayyah Zardad says it’s not about shutting women up; people make wrong interpretations because they judge at face value.

“It’s God’s rules, [he] tells you to cover your beauty as it elevates a woman’s status and protects their chastity and modesty.”

Zardad decided by herself to wear a niqab in Grade 10. She said she started understanding the values associated with it, “It spoke to me, and I saw beauty in covering myself.”

 Muslim students say it’s not easy to wear a burka (full covering) because there is a social stigma attached to it and people are sometimes afraid of you.

Deregistration if permits not in

International students face expulsion if they do not submit their student permits by the end of the month.

Wits International Office service manager Gita Patel emphasised that students who fail to engage with the WIO before April 30 will be deregistered.

“All students are advised to report to the WIO by April 25 to ensure their application is on the priority list,” she said.

According to Patel, the university has 2350 registered international students, of which 2165 are from the continent. The office says there are 80 submissions still outstanding. “Students should collect their permits or get an update on the progress from home affairs before [the Easter weekend] April 25,” says Patel.

Home Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa says when applying for a study permit the applicant must indicate, among others, the institution of study, the course to be studied, its duration, as well as the address at which the applicant will reside.

Liabella Belchoir, a first year student from Angola, says she applied for a study permit in November and has still not received it.

“The last time I went to check if my permit was ready was at the end of March, which was the previous deadline, but home affairs said my permit was still not ready.”

Mampoepa says the turnaround time for the finalisation of a temporary residence permit, which includes study permits, is 30 days.

Clever Boys Aim to Score A+ in Nedbank Opener

The Clever Boys, as the Bidvest Wits Soccer Team are known, aim to send Santos back to the classroom for a football lesson in their first-round match of the Nedbank Cup. The game will be played at the Bidvest Stadium on Sunday, March 13, and kick-off is at 3pm.

Having emerged victorious in the competition last year, Bidvest will be hoping to get a perfect start to their championship defence by defeating the Cape Town side.

Wits are no strangers to beating Santos and to ensure that the players showcase a top performance as they did in the February league fixture when they brushed off the People’s Team with a convincing 3-1 score line, the coaching staff and technical team are putting in extra hard work in preparations.

Goal keeper Darren Keat said: “Keeping a clean sheet is essential because it is a knock-out Cup game.
“We are strong enough to beat Santos, and we can achieve that if we keep our eyes on the ball.”
Wits will be looking to the likes of Sifiso Vilakazi upfront to spearhead the attacks. Vilakazi said: “The mood is high in camp and against an unpredictable side such as Santos we need to attack from the first whistle in order to win.”

Despite lying in sixth position on the Absa Premiership log, Wits have had a recent impressive run of matches. In their last 10 games they have won six and drawn two, scoring a total of 23 goals.

They will hope to carry this run of form into Sunday’s game which, should they win, will send a strong message to the rest of their opponents that they strive for nothing less than retaining the Cup.

A concern for the team could be that their leading scorer, Bhongolwethu Jayiya, will not be able to play as he has featured in the same competition before, for a team in the first divison prior to joining Wits.

According to midfielder Mark Haskins this is not really a worry for the team. “We have been on a good run lately and playing at home is a good enough boost to see us through to the next round,” he said.