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.”
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.
These banners were littered all over the FNB on West Campus to welcome all delegates to the conference. Photo: Prelene Singh
Delegates eager to read the special Power Reporting edition of the Wits Vuvuzela. Photo: Prelene Singh
Michael Salzwedel gave a class on Google tools and showed attendees how to use them. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
Delegates taking notes and asking speakers questions. Pictured are Anina Mumm (left) and Izak Minnaar. Photo: Caro Malherbe
Alex Kotlowitz awed and inspired delegates with his opening talk that spoke to non-fiction storytelling. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
Nigerian delegates arriving on the first day of the conference. Photo: Nolwazi Mjwara
Data journalism classes proved popular this year, most sessions were as well attended as the one pictured. Photo: Shandukani Mulaudzi
Luc Hermann gave a powerful session on pharmacutical drugs. Photo: Shandukani Mulaudzi
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 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
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.
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.
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
A BLUEBIRD is the latest investigative tool, according to Ray Joseph, social media expert and journalist.
In presentation, Joseph gave tips on how to build a professional profile:
- Journalists should have a clear and descriptive twitter biography. They should also have a proper profile picture. “If you want to be a trusted source you can’t have an egg.”
- If journalists use twitter for professional reasons, they should link it to a larger website. “Put your link to LinkedIn or a professional website.”
- Hashtags are important. Journalists should play around with and use them to find out about breaking stories and news stories. Hashtags are like metal filing cabinets that help organise documents. “At the heart of twitter lies hashtags. They help you sort through the noise.”
Joseph emphasised the importance of twitter as a search tool for journalists.
“Journalists aren’t always the first people on the scene so social networks help you receive the news first,” he said.
Paula Fray challenged journalists to “remember the faces” behind the “big issues’ they covered. Speaking at a seminar on “Community Voices”, Fray of FrayIntermedia noted that stories had become accounts of “he-said-she-said” battles between officials. “Nobody speaks to the communities that are really affected, the human face is forgotten,” she said.
“Where were the policy journalists when e-tolling was still being proposed years ago?”
Citing e-tolls as an example, Fray explained the different stages a piece of legislation goes through before it becomes law.
She said the debate among citizens and community members should start while the law is being drawn up, when people can still influence the direction it takes. “Where were the policy journalists when e-tolling was still being proposed years ago?
That’s when the debate should have started because by the time they (the media) broke the story, the debate had already been framed and it had become quite a middle-class he-said-she-said game.”
While Fray said she understood the financial and time constraints journalists faced in the newsroom, she urged them to ask tough questions and not to be intimidated. “I know it’s not easy but many of these problems are universal to all newsrooms and you need to push past them.”
Gcina Ntsaluba of Corruption Watch shared his experiences trying to access information from the government and state-owned companies. He explained how to use the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to get records from these entities. Using examples of stories published by the City Press and other Media24 publications, Ntsaluba gave real examples of how the Act could give more depth and “exclusivity” to a story: “We all love exclusives here and this tool helps you access some exclusive information.”
A community journalist in the audience spoke about the apathy of community members to the work done by community journalists. Fray said this attitude could be changed by a different approach from journalists themselves: “People become disengaged because they no longer see themselves in these stories. Make the stories about the communities who are affected and it will tell a better story and involve the very people you want to see reading your work.”
WHEN most people were sleeping in their warm comfortable beds at 2.30am on Monday morning, 23 students from the University of Limpopo (UL) were getting on a bus headed to Johannesburg. It was cold and rainy but that did not dampen their mood.
They were headed to the Power Reporting conference to be “baptised in journalism,” as their lecturer Thabiso Muswede put it. Muswede said the UL media department brought their entire Honours class, two Masters students and eight staff members to the conference.
“We want them to engage with media people from all over the world,” said Muswede. This was the third time UL attended the conference but for the first two years they could only bring two or three students. Muswede said the change in attitude and behaviour in those students had been notable: “They’ve developed confidence and they are inspired.”
[pullquote]They were headed to the Power Reporting conference to be “baptised in journalism”[/pullquote]Muswede said he hoped that “rubbing shoulders” with respected international and local journalists would help students to “marry theory with practice”, make them more employable and build their confidence. “So when they graduate they are not scared to plunge themselves in any pool and engage in international debates,” he said.
The Limpopo team only received two bursaries from Power Reporting, with everyone else being sponsored by the university “because they value our progress”, said Muswede. UL honours student Khotso Mabokela said she was “overwhelmed” with excitement. Mabokela said she wanted to come last year but she was unable to. Getting the opportunity to attend Power Reporting this year was a big deal.
While Mabokela was tired from the trip and from exams at UL, she was still excited about the conference, especially with investigative journalist Mzilakazi wa Afrika. “I want to know how he won his cases and how he investigates,” she said.
Mabokela wants to follow in wa Afrika’s footsteps and become an investigative journalist. Muswede said Wits was “leading in teaching journalism in Africa” and wanted to expose their UL students to the programme.
PEOPLE speak of being investigative journalists and as we learn and aspire to become some of the best journalists of our generation, we look at these journalists as representatives of the “cream of the crop” in the field. This may ring true, based on our biases and the invisible journalism hierarchy, but French journalist Luc Hermann said it is a tautology to refer to “investigative” journalism.
In his talk Spinning health: How big pharma sells drugs he said every story we write we need to investigate and interrogate, investigative journalism is not a special category where this happens exclusively. In everything we do we must remember our mandate, which is to tell stories accurately and to inform people.
When people think of data journalism the first inclination is to switch off because we all know that “three in one journalists cannot count”.
New York Times investigative reporter Ron Nixon reminded delegates in the data journalism seminars that it is not only about mathematics but about sharing information and helping people understand that information. As journalists we fall into the trap of taking our information, throwing it onto a pretty visual and calling that journalism. A delegate referred to this as “info-porn” and reminded us that we need to remember that even through data we must tell a story.
Data journalism will play a vital role in the 2014 national elections in South Africa. The general public will need accurate and intricate breakdowns of how the polls stand and what that means for the electorate. In the data journalism discussions this was an important topic which served us well as journalists who will be involved in the coverage.
[pullquote]As journalists we fall into the trap of taking our information, throwing it onto a pretty visual and calling that journalism[/pullquote]In our “Your voice” section, we asked delegates what the most important skill they learnt was. For example, sitting in Heinrich Böhmke’s cross-examination for investigative journalists – he spoke of a tool he calls “inherent probability”. The basic principle of this is to question how believable your story is which will determine the amount of tangible proof you will need to have along with your story.
For example, if someone tells you they are late because they were stuck in traffic for 20 minutes you are more likely to believe that excuse from someone in Johannesburg than from someone in a small town like Springbok. The burden of proof on the person in Springbok is higher. In his opening speech Alex Kotlowitz said: “As a writer your best friend is chronology. If you have it, use it and if you don’t go out and find it.”
Empathetic rather than sympathetic
Kotlowitz said it was important for journalists to be empathetic rather than sympathetic. In South Africa we are fortunate to experience a broad media freedom. Although there are threats to this freedom we do not routinely experience death threats and corrupt editors as in some other countries.
Idris Akinbajo, a reporter from Nigeria who was central to investigations into oil corruption, spoke about his experiences. A sentiment that most of the Nigerian delegates shared was the negative consequence of exposing the evils of government and large corporations. As young journos we learned from industry’s greatest and how to think on our feet.
If there is one thing you need to help you write better stories it’s to connect with people and make great contacts.
The Power Reporting conference was the best place to network. Reporting requires one to be courageous and work hard to tell the best story possible. In the words of Kotlowitz: “Stories open apertures into dark corners of the world.”
In the same way that Shaka bearing his spears was not on an equal footing with the British colonialists and their rifles, the Marikana miners with their machetes and knobkerries could not have been a true threat to the police.
They were met with nyalas, revolvers, stun grenades and hundreds of police officers. A line was crossed on August 16 2012. That line was the blurry line between self-defence and murder. The Wits Club on West Campus was transformed into a movie theatre on Monday night for a screening of a rough-cut of Rehad Desai’s film, which has the working title of Countdown to Marikana Massacre.
The ”roughness” of the version shown was evident but the story being told was so compelling that there were no grunts and groans when those parts came or technical glitches interrupted viewing. Desai’s version of events shows new evidence that seems damning. The police had footage of the area they now refer to as “scene two”. At this smaller koppie, miners were shot down after the initial shooting.
The police footage was one of the most horrifying yet gripping scenes of the film. It showed just how power had crossed a line and put its rubber boot on the throats or necks of ordinary miners. “Scene two” shows miners’ bodies at the bottom of the koppie. From the way their bodies fell it looks like police officers went after miners who were hiding. Police in the footage are heard congratulating one another for using “nice skills” where their shooting was concerned.
[pullquote]Police in the footage are heard congratulating one another for using “nice skills” where their shooting was concerned.[/pullquote]That scene is the climax to the message Desai had been trying to convey throughout the entire showing. He was saying something about the police and their collusion with Lonmin and perhaps even politicians. He pointed out that this kind of collusion was to blame and showed us what a force it was. This sentiment was further reinforced when new footage was shown of how the shooting on August 16 started. Miners no longer look as if they are charging at the police like in most of the footage circulated in the media, but are rather walking slowly towards the Wonderkop informal settlement.
Suddenly, a shot comes from behind one of the police vans, followed by a return shot by one miner armed with a gun and then the story we have seen before plays out. The film is much like eNCA’s Through the Lens and Seven Days of Night two-part documentary in the way the story unfolds but different because it is clear that one side has been chosen and is favoured by Desai and the commentators he chose to interview.
Journalists are taught to have balance in whatever story we tell and, as we know, there is no such thing as objectivity. As a filmmaker, Desai has chosen the side he believes and backs up his evidence. More evidence has surfaced indicating that on the day of the massacre a call was made to a mortuary ordering four vans, each with the capacity to carry eight bodies. Four-thousand rounds of ammunition were also ordered by our police force.
Even if we tried to put ourselves in the shoes of Lonmin, the government or the police, it is becoming increasingly difficult to believe that self-defence was the reason for 34 miners dying.
By Ray Mahlaka and Dineo Bendile
INTIMIDATION, bribery and smear campaigns are the challenges faced by investigative journalists in South Africa, said Sunday Times journalists Mzilikazi wa Afrika and Rob Rose.
Wa Afrika and Rose are experts in this as they are the team who exposed the wasteful expenditure of state funds by former communications minister Dina Pule.
Earlier this year Pule was suspended from her position following an investigation into her improper conduct after she allegedly awarded her boyfriend, Phosane Mngqibisa, a tender for the organisation of the ICT Indaba in 2012.
The journalists’ interest was sparked by tip-offs and inside sources from the department of communications. They would later use records from a travel agency after Pule had all her own records of her holidays with her boyfriend destroyed.
Investigative journalism tips
The speakers were able to give delegates some tips based on their investigative experience.
[pullquote align=”right”]“The more you deny, the more a journalist will dig. And the more they dig the more stuff will come out.”[/pullquote]
According to the speakers, one of the fundamental aspects of investigative journalism was the importance of ensuring the accuracy of any information published. Their initial articles were met with denials, forcing them to get more information on Pule.
“We became unpopular… we were forced to get more damning evidence for people to believe us,” said wa Afrika. Rose and wa Afrika said they did not stop at getting documents but also sought out the authors of the documents.
“If you get any document, the best way to verify information is to find who is or are authors of this document,” wa Afrika said. “Any document is written by the source, try and trace which is the author and interrogate them on why they wrote the document.”
According to wa Afrika, after breaking the revelations of Pule he had several meetings with the former minister and some of her colleagues where they attempted to intimidate him and offer cash for his silence.
He urged journalists to meet sources in public places that they know well to avoid any possible attacks or being accused of accepting a bribe.
“Make sure that when you meet someone you meet them at a strategic place. Make sure you know the place you are meeting at and you know that there are cameras,” wa Afrika said.
Persistence is needed when uncovering the truth as an investigative journalist. While investigating Pule’s improprieties the team received a lot of backlash from politicians and Pule herself. However, this only encouraged them.
“The more you deny, the more a journalist will dig. And the more they dig the more stuff will come out,” wa Afrika said.
He told delegates that journalists are often intimidated by people with power to force them to back down from investigations.
“When you become an investigative journalist, one thing you open yourself up to is smear campaigns, slander, people trying to intimidate you. People will try to kill you, not because you are a bad person, but because you stepped on some toes,” wa Afrika said.
The Guardian newspaper journalist David Smith, who attended wa Afrika and Rose’s presentation, said he wanted to find out more about investigative journalism in South Africa.
“I wanted to know what stories are being covered and who’s covering them… there is a lot of good journalists doing good work, Mail & Guardian and Sunday Times are a few [such] publications. I think South Africa probably has the strongest investigative journalism in Africa,” he said.
Eyewitness News: Dina Pule fined and suspended. August 7, 2013
MEDIA Monitoring Africa’s William Bird and his IT partner Billy Einkamerer have introduced a new website that aims to restore “truth to journalism”.
The site, newstools.co.za, will buckle down on the trend of “churnalism”, a word combining “churn” and “journalism”. Bird said many journalists have come to rely on churning out press releases which have just been copied and pasted.
“The site is in beta stage and many bugs still need to be addressed, but for now the site is available to any member of the public who wants to find out if a piece of writing is an original or not,” said Einkamerer.
Bird notes the decline of journalists working in newsrooms over the past years and at the same time the increase in the number of people in public relations .
[pullquote align=”right”]“You can follow every single link to an article where the same paragraph has been used so you can determine where the paragraph comes from and how reliable the source is.”[/pullquote]
“We are seeing more and more stories that are being ‘churnalised’ and spin doctors are pleased with the new trend in media because they are getting copy all the time, which comes from the same source,” said Bird.
The website plans to name and shame journalists and media houses who churn out recycled news and press releases.
The site will allow users to find out who is “churnalising” the most.
“When you use our website you search a particular article or paragraph, it locates the same article fairly quickly and reveals where it has been found before,” Einkamerer said.
It also shows the percentage of the article’s match to other articles already online.
“You can follow every single link to an article where the same paragraph has been used so you can determine where the paragraph comes from and how reliable the source is,” said Einkamerer.
Einkamerer said journalism is the pursuit of truth and the website will allow for more transparency and bring back accountability. He believes that true journalists will get more credit and those who are lazy will be exposed.