Wits academic resigns amid sexual harassment investigations

Dr Lord Mauko-Yevugah

Dr Lord Mauko-Yevugah who was placed on special leave in  April this year.

A fourth Wits university lecturer involved in the  sexual harassment investigation has resigned.

In an official statement released earlier this afternoon, vice-chancellor Professor Adam Habib confirmed that the fourth lecturer accused of sexual harassment had  resigned and was no longer an employee of the University.

This resignation comes after the dismissal of three other academics earlier this year, also for sexual harassment.

In April, Wits Vuvuzela revealed that Dr Lord Mawuko-Yevugah, of International Relations, had been placed on special leave pending an investigation. At the time, university officials were reluctant to reveal the exact nature of the investigations involving Mawuko-Yevugah.
But in September this year, a reliable source who wished to remain anonymous confirmed to Wits Vuvuzela that Lord-Yevugah was the fourth accused in the university’s sexual harassment investigations.
In the statement released today Habib remained consistent in not revealing the identity of the individuals at the centre of the sexual harassment cases.
He said the resignation of the fourth lecturer would bring to “an end the individual cases that the University has been investigating around sexual harassment”. He went on to say that the university would continue their zero tolerance to sexual misconduct by staff.
“It also provides us with an opportunity to remember that Wits has a zero tolerance policy towards any form of sexual harassment and that it will deal decisively with any such matters,” said Habib
Mawuko-Yevugah’s resignation comes two months after senior academics Tsepo wa Mamatu, Dr Last Moyo and Prof Rupert Taylor were found guilty of sexual harassment and dismissed from the university.
Habib thanked members of the university community for their help and support and apologised to victims of sexual harassment at Wits: “May these dreadful experiences never be repeated again – not on our campuses.”

GALLERY: Highlights from Power Reporting 2013

This year’s Power Reporting Conference hosted by Wits Journalism was the biggest they’ve hosted to date. Three days saw close to 300 delegates from around the world coming together to discuss abd debate issues central to investigative journalism.

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These banners were littered all over the FNB on West Campus to welcome all delegates to the conference. Photo: Prelene Singh

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Delegates eager to read the special Power Reporting edition of the Wits Vuvuzela. Photo: Prelene Singh

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Michael Salzwedel gave a class on Google tools and showed attendees how to use them. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

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Delegates taking notes and asking speakers questions. Pictured are Anina Mumm (left) and Izak Minnaar. Photo: Caro Malherbe

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Alex Kotlowitz awed and inspired delegates with his opening talk that spoke to non-fiction storytelling. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

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Nigerian delegates arriving on the first day of the conference. Photo: Nolwazi Mjwara

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Data journalism classes proved popular this year, most sessions were as well attended as the one pictured. Photo: Shandukani Mulaudzi

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Luc Hermann gave a powerful session on pharmacutical drugs. Photo: Shandukani Mulaudzi

Carlos Cardosa Memorial Lecture: revolutionary journalism

Carlos Cardosa Memorial Lecture: revolutionary journalism

The second annual Carlos Cardosa memorial lecture was delivered by anti-apartheid activist, journalist and founding editor of The Nambian, Gwen Lister.

Late Mozambican journalist Carlos Cardosa was honoured at the Power Reporting 2103. Photo: Emelia Motsai

Late Mozambican journalist Carlos Cardosa was honoured at the Power Reporting 2013.                                                                                                                                                                                                 Photo: Emelia Motsai

 

Remembering the guerrilla typewriter

The talk honouring the work and memory of Mozambican journalist Carlos Cardosa, who was gunned down in November 2000 after his investigative reporting threatened to reveal the full extent of multi-million dollar corruption involving the Mozambican government and the state bank.

Lister titled her lecture “Guerrilla Typewriters: Fighting for Media Freedom before and after Liberation”, and deliberately set out to light the fire of revolution under the conferences delegates mainly comprising journalists.

The tactic was a success as the idea of a public service journalism, inspired by Cardosa’s work, stirred more passionate rather than clinical discussions, reflected in the words that came from the panel as well as from the audience as journalists.

Gwen Lister and Professor Anton Harber at the Carlos Cardosa Memorial Talk. Photo: Emelia Motsai

Gwen Lister and Professor Anton Harber at the Carlos Cardosa Memorial Talk. Photo: Emelia Motsai

 

Historical resonance

Wits deputy vice-chancellor Professor Tawana Kupe’s opening remarks set what was to be an introspective tone streaked with jubilation:

“There is a historical resonance between Carlos Cardosa and investigative journalism. To have Gwen Lister and Anton Harber under this photo of Carlos Cardosa is an absolute historical moment. Take out your phones and your cameras. Get the picture,” Prof Kupe enthused.

[pullquote]At an earlier session in the same auditorium addressed by investigative journalist extraordinaire Mzilikazi wa Afrika, the audience challenged the newspaperman and each other over the feeling that there was no fraternity amongst journalist.[/pullquote] One journo said she was disappointed when fellow journalists had not stood up for a BBC journalist when he kicked out of a press conference by then ANCYL president Julius Malema.

Lister’s address sought to sew together these fractures by reminding journalists of their revolutionary responsibility to creating democratic societies.

Reading from what sounded like a carefully written, emotive speech, Professor Harber picked up the thread.

After reminding the audience of Cardosa’s history as Wits SRC (Students Representative Council), president and his consequent deportation back to Mozambique by the South African government for his writing criticising the Lisbon Coup, Harber sought to draw out the meaning of Cardosa’s work as a journalist bent on exposing corruption to journalism today.

“We gather to remember Carlos not just as a fierce and brave investigative journalist, but as one who came to symbolise the spirit of public service that is at the heart of great journalism.”

Journalism is a passion and vocation

Gwen Lister upped the momentum as the keynote speaker, speaking of issues at the core of what many feel is wrong with journalism today. She tackled the role journalists in the fight for media freedom from the onset.

“I see journalism as a passion and a calling … and this is underpinned by freedom of expression. I call on all of you to be journalists on a mission to excellence and advocacy.”

She said this right was continually undermined on the continent, seen in the impunity with which violence against journalists was committed.

“We need to get out of our nationalistic boxes and feel the pain when other journalists on the continent are being killed,” Lister said.

She described Cardosa as a crusader against corruption, but not the only journalist who has had to pay with his life for this kind of journalism. For Lister, journalists were linked by this common pursuit for freedom to report on wrong-doing and abuses in their societies.

“The power is still in our pens,” Lister concluded her talk, short of raising her fist to the rousing applause.

African data team a first for Power Reporting

African data team a first for Power Reporting

DATA SAVES: New York Times journalist, Ron Nixon, is one member of the primarily African team teaching data journalism at the Power Reporting conference. Photo: Provided

DATA SAVES: New York Times journalist, Ron Nixon, is one member of the primarily African team teaching data journalism at the Power Reporting conference.
Photo:  Dinesh Balliah.

THE FIRST primarily African data journalism team has come to the Power Reporting conference to show how data journalism can aid in ground-breaking investigative reporting.

The team of 16 seeks to introduce journalists at the conference to the world of data journalism. But the biggest challenge might be to convince fellow journalists that working with numbers is not an insurmountable task.

For most journalists, words are second nature. But when faced with numbers, however, it may seem like a daunting task to turn them into stories. Learning data journalism is an important skill for the future.

Media trainer Ray Joseph called data journalism the new “buzz word” in the field and it is a tool that can help journalists do their job better.

Data journalism does the “heavy lifting” so journalists can focus on the stories.“The story is in the data and you have to find the story,” he said.

[pullquote align=”right”]“Information becomes important when it talks to me, when I don’t have to look at the bigger picture and I see what it means.”[/pullquote]

Joseph believes that journalists don’t need to be techno savvy to make use of data journalism. He said that even a basic understanding of data journalism can be useful.

Ron Nixon, a New York Times data journalist, believes it is important for journalists to understand data because it “is as critical as learning how to write”. Nixon said understanding the collection and use of data allows journalists to understand information better, giving a fuller context for articles.

Joseph argues that an uptake on data journalism in South Africa has been slow, as journalists believe they don’t have time to acquire new skills. They are wary of taking on new things that could potentially increase their work load.

Even so, Joseph and the rest of the team are adamant that data journalism is the future of journalism. Nixon hopes data journalism will become the norm rather than something seen as “exotic”.

Team member Luvuyo Mdeni, of SABC digital news, presented a mapping seminar. The seminar showed how data can be visually appealing through mapping.

Mdeni said there is a lot to be done in terms of data journalism because it can show how large amounts of information can be relevant to an individual.“Information becomes important when it talks to me, when I don’t have to look at the bigger picture and I see what it means [to me],”said Mdeni.

Michael Salzwedel of SABC digital news presented on Google tools. Salzwedel raised concern about the fact that people were not aware of the free tools that are available to journalists. Salzwedel said it was important to use new ways of gathering and visualising data.

Not enough naira to silence me

INVESTIGATIVE journalists in Nigeria face being ostracised for unmasking corruption, not only by the government and large corporations they expose but also by their fellow colleagues.

This was the sentiment shared by Nigerian reporters who attended Premium Times editor Idris Akinbajo’s presentation Investigating for Change in Nigerian Oil.

Akinbajo was a key player in exposing the Malabu scandal of Nigeria, a scheme to steal oil money by government officials together with major oil companies Shell and Eni.“It is difficult being an investigative journalist in Nigeria. Journalists are probably even more corrupt than the government officials. But who reports on the reporter?” Akinbajo asked.

He said because he worked on the Malabu report, he was asked by colleagues why he bothered to pursue it. They told him he had nothing to lose from walking away from the investigation.

Akinbajo said the mentality in Nigeria was to go along with corruption as it is the norm. “People feel we are all corrupt. Why expose it? Why do differently? That’s the mentality,” he said.

Akinbajo said it was important for journalists to remember why they entered the profession and not be swayed by money. “Why are you in journalism if it is not to expose people who do wrong?” he asked the crowd.

[pullquote align=”right”]“It is difficult being an investigative journalist in Nigeria. Journalists are probably even more corrupt than the government officials.”[/pullquote]

Akinbajo said he was offered about 100-million naira (about R6.2-million) to drop the investigation but refused to do it as he made a decision to work hard and to be ethical.

“You have to be persistent. You must remain objective, work hard and persevere. Even though you will be ostracised you will also be respected more by others,” he said.

Going the extra mile

Although Akinbajo knows that there are reporters who are corrupt themselves, he does not think that he would report on corrupt journalists. “I would love to but dogs don’t eat dogs,” he joked. “On a serious note, though, the truth is sometimes I see these reporters as victims as well and it is very difficult to blame them.

They have food to put on their tables and children to put through school. I do not see them as the primary cause of the problem and therefore I will pursue the primary cause before I will expose journalists who are the result of bigger issues.”

Tobore Ovuorie, a fellow Nigerian reporter, said she felt the talk was insightful and fantastic.
“He went the extra mile for his story. Journalists in Nigeria do not dedicate time. He’s been an inspiration for me,” she said.

She added that other reporters would have been too scared to report on the Malabu scandal because of the key roleplayers. “They could get corrupted very easily and he refused to take blood money. That is very encouraging,” Ovuorie said.

The Malabu investigation has been ongoing since the year 2000. Akinbajo is still working on it and believes the work of exposing the corruption was possible because Nigeria has become more democratic. “Journalists now have access to more information and more people are willing to talk to us which is why we were able to uncover more,” he said.

When he first started his investigations his aim was for justice to be served. “For me justice is two-fold. One, for those people who broke the law to be punished accordingly. Then two, and for the oil bloc [funds] to be returned to the Nigerian government seeing as it was allocated fraudulently in the first place,” he said.

For further information on Akinbajo’s series visit: premiumtimesng.com