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.”