By Shandukani Mulaudzi and Mfuneko Toyana in Qunu, Eastern Cape.
Granting sufficient access to the tens of thousands of people anxious to pay their last respects to Nelson Mandela was always going to be a difficult and delicate issue.
In the nine days leading up to momentous funeral on Sunday in the former president’s home town of Qunu, the various official events organised as swan songs to Madiba were criticised loudly and and bitterly across society.
In Johannesburg, some were disappointed that Mandela’s body was not brought to his memorial at FNB Stadium so they say goodbye “in person”. Three days of an open-casket viewing of South Africa’s biggest hero at Union Buildings in Pretoria was not enough. Thousands were turned away from the Pretoria landmark where a mausoleum as built for him to lie-in-state without getting close to the dappled lawns.
In Mthatha, as the day when the hero would disappear forever beneath the earth’s soil steadily approached, a sense of an opportunity to bid Madiba farewell began rapidly slipping away.
This grief-inflected panic was an almost celebratory despondency.
Sipho and the gift of t-shirts
Mandela’s flag-draped casket was scheduled to be flown into Mthatha Airport at exactly 12.45 on Saturday afternoon.
From there it was to be driven through the streets of Mthatha en-route to Qunu for burial the next day, making two stops along the way to allow mourners an opportunity to say goodbye.
Things did not go according to schedule.
From as early 9am people lined the sidewalks of the streets where the convoy would pass, forming a bustling guard of honour.
The longer people waited to see Madiba in the streets of Mthatha one last time, the more restless they became.
There were soon mad rushes for the white t-shirt adorned with Mandela’s smiling face, handed out for free if you could get your hands on them, triggering scuffles and near-stampedes as people fought each other. The thousands of white cotton treasures were just not enough.
“I came here to get a t-shirt,” Siphosonke Lukhozi beamed, rubbing his Mandela t-shirt with pride.
Beneath his arm he carried a cardboard poster of Mandela as he trudged home between train tracks to his Walter Sisulu University (WSU) off-campus dorm.
The fourth-year education student then quickly added that he was also there to see Mandela and say goodbye.
Lukhozi was one of few that did see the casket as it sped past crowds and failed to pause as promised.
As we snaked our way through New Payne “skomplaas”, a combination of township and rural area, Lukhozi went through his pecking order of heroes, with Mandela topping the list.
“People sit at home expecting government to bring work to them,” he said.
Lukhozi said for him education was the new struggle, a lesson he had taken from Mandela, as he led the way into the small room he shares with a fellow WSU student.
“Nothing’s for free mfwethu,” he said, the starch-white t-shirt baring Madiba’s saintly visage contrasting sharply with stained walls of the dorms passage.
By Shandukani Mulaudzi and Mfuneko Toyana , Qunu – Eastern Cape
Tears, song and cheering filled the marquee where the people of Qunu gathered to bid a fond farewell to their late neighbour and former president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
Although the mainstream media reported that some members of the Qunu community were disappointed they could not attend the funeral, Wits Vuvuzela found many who contradicted these reports
Hundreds – both young and old – gathered at the Nelson Mandela Museum where they could watch the funeral. Even those who had watched the first part of the programme on their televisions at home headed up the hill to share in the last few moments of the funeral with their fellow community members.
When the procession, led by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), moved towards the burial site some cried while others sat silently and watched.
When the 21 gun salute started the people ran forward to watch the SANDF planes fly over the hills of Qunu. Many raised their fists in a silent salute.
After the screens were turned off the people sat down for a while before heading home.
In Mvezo, where Mandela was born, people were at a public viewing marquee long after the screens were switched off. While children played and dogs ran wild, the elders spoke under the tents and the young men and women leaned against fences chatting.
Diniso Mzikayise was born and raised in Mvezo. He said even though they could not attend the funeral they were happy that the screen was put up so they could share the moment together as a community.
Mzikayise said he did not know of any people who were hurt because they could not go to the funeral. He said if those people did exist, they probably internalised their frustrations.
Mthatha-residents Billy Johnson and Luxolo Ndabeni said they would have happily attended one of the public viewing tents in Qunu fitted with big screens and offering a free lunch after the service.
Unfortunately, Johnson said, they needed to make an urgent delivery that morning, and more importantly, they needed the money.
Ndabeni said he respected Mandela because he had not “abandoned his town like other leaders. But he expressed disappointment that Mthatha residents were not able to attend Mandela’s funeral.
He lamented that only certain could benefit financially from projects intended to develop Mthatha.
“It’s not like in Joburg, here only if you have van then maybe you can make some money. But even then when there are projects only those with connections get the work,” Ndabeni said.
“If you want money but your family aren’t rich and connected …” he added before trailing off.
With the huge tent where the funeral service was being held peering over a slope behind them, Johnson tapped his wrist with two fingers.
“uMandela besimthanda kodwa kufenekile siyenze imali (We loved Mandela but need to make money),” Johnson said.
And off they went.
Mourners came from across South Africa to bid their final farewells to national hero and first Black president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. His remains will lie in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria till Friday.
Some of the crowd at FNB Stadium jeered the South African President Jacob Zuma during former president Nelson Mandela’s memorial. Photo: Shandukani Mulaudzi.
An unruly crowd spoiled proceedings at what was meant to be a sombre memorial for former president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg today.
On the day on which South Africans gathered with international visitors to unite in memory of Madiba, a significant portion of the mourners at FNB Soccer Stadium was unable to hide their dissatisfaction with the current South African president Jacob Zuma.
As dignitaries from around the world including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and former South African president Thabo Mbeki were shown arriving for the memorial the crowd cheered them on enthusiastically but Zuma’s image on the large screens around the stadium was treated with loud booing and jeering.
Deputy-president of the African National Congress (ANC) Cyril Ramaphosa appealed to the crowd to be disciplined but as he did so, an image of US President Barack Obama was shown to which the crowd responded with cheers. Immediately afterwards, Zuma was shown again to further booing.
The crowd became more restless when the screens stopped focusing on the speakers on the stage. During Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s speech singing erupted from the stands. The African Union chair’s speech was interrupted by Ramaphosa who yet again appealed for quiet.
The disruptive behaviour persisted during the rest of the program although US President Barack Obama’s speech received more attention and applause.
Soon after Obama’s speech though large groups of people made their way out of the stadium.
“Where is the Ubuntu?”
Ramaphosa finally resorted to speaking in Isizulu and pleaded for the crowd to be disciplined and refrain from embarrassing the country in front of foreign guests.
One South African journalist was overheard saying: “Some in the country are so angry that even Mandela’s spirit of unity can’t silence people.”
People on Twitter expressed their disappointment in the crowd’s behaviour.
Mel Msane (@mel_msane) tweeted:“Buphi Ubuntu” – “Where is the Ubuntu?”. Liesl Frankson (@LieslFrankson) said: “This is so ridiculous why can’t people respect that this is not about the president and former president it’s about #Madiba!! Stop booing!”.
Wits vice-chancellor Professor Adam Habib (@adhabb) tweeted: I am not sure it is that it is appropriate to boo Zuma at Madiba’s memorial. This is Madiba’s day. We should not be distracted from this. ”
Attention then turned to concern for what would happen during the President’s keynote. A praise poet made an unscheduled but welcome appearance in order to introduce Zuma but this did little to settle the restless crowd. Zuma’s appearance thereafter was briefly greeted with more booing but the crowd quietened as he spoke and he concluded to some applause.
Witsies gathered at the Great Hall today to pay their final respects to former president and father of the nation Nelson Mandela. Watch as they speak about the meaning of Mandela to each of them.
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
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.
THE WITS Media Board has “unanimously” concluded that Wits Vuvuzela did not contravene the Wits media code in publishing allegations of sexual harassment against former media studies lecturer Dr Last Moyo earlier this year.
Deputy Vice Chancellor of Academics Prof Andrew Crouch said the board found the newspaper had not violated the ethical code. “There were many other claims, but the only question that we had to consider was whether the ethical code had been transgressed.”
Moyo had laid a complaint with the board in March. One of his complaints was that Wits Vuvuzela reporter, Dineo Bendile, did not disclose to him that she was also one of his accusers.
[pullquote]”the media board then took a vote by ballot and it was unanimous that the university code was not transgressed.”[/pullquote]Crouch said this was the first time the board had met this year and various processes had to be followed before the actual case could be started.
Crouch explained that, due to the matters raised, it was important for the board to have specialist input. This was the reason the process had been lengthy. Two “fairly senior” experts currently working in the media had been asked for their help and practical experience.
The legal office was mandated with providing a report after interviewing all those involved in the matter. “On the basis of all that information, the media board then took a vote by ballot and it was unanimous that the university code was not transgressed.”
Commenting on the hearing, Bendile said she had been disappointed by the lack of communication throughout the process. “It took so long and was done so quietly that I had even forgotten about it. If something like this happens again, they should give more regular updates because it’s just frustrating.”
During their sittings, Crouch said the board discovered the media code had not been reviewed in years and would need to be updated.
“Like many other policies of the university, we’ll most probably have to also look at our media board policy because it was not reviewed for some time and, in the mean time, technology has changed like twitter, Facebook and all these things and it was written at a time when those things did not exist.”
Crouch said university structures and media experts would work “to tighten the media policy in order to ensure that we have a more relevant policy”.
As a sixteen year old Tsebo Lephoto was a typical high scholar who enjoyed sitting at the back of the class with his friends. But one day he realised he could not see what was written on the board. He went to the bathroom and washed his eyes. When he got back to class, he still couldn’t see clearly.
For weeks, he copied his notes from friends refusing to believe that anything was wrong with his sight. For years Lephoto wore glasses but they did not help. His eyesight kept deteriorating and optometrists kept giving him stronger glasses.
[pullquote]“He was at a point where his eyes were deteriorating and he had started looking into whether he would have to start learning Braille.”[/pullquote] It was five years later when Lephoto was diagnosed with Keratoconus – a rare disease which leads to the quick deterioration of one’s vision. Lephoto was told in some cases the disease it could lead to blindness.
Lephoto, currently an intern at Discovery Life, was studying towards his BComm in Finance at Wits when he received a bursary from Studietrust administered by First National Bank (FNB).
Dr Murray Hofmeyr, National Director of Studietrust said: “We had always funded disabled students but we received so few applications. So we went to the disability unit at Wits which is how we got Tsebo.”
Hofmeyr said when they started working with Lephoto he was at a very difficult point in his life.
“He was at a point where his eyes were deteriorating and he had started looking into whether he would have to start learning Braille.”
Hofmeyr said the bursary did not cover medical issues as it was solely for educational purposes but they were intent on finding a solution for Lephoto.
“I spoke to someone at FNB who helped Tsebo make contact with Dr Mark Deist, an eye specialist.”
Deist is the founding member of the Sandhurst Eye Centre, Johannesburg Excimer Laser Centre and the Laser Vision
[pullquote align=”right”]”This is a rare disability. My contacts are straight from overseas they are not manufactured here.”[/pullquote]Laboratory.
Lephoto said once he started working with Deist they were able to help him get special contact lenses which he has been wearing to improve his eyesight since 2011. Without his contacts, Lephoto can only see silhouettes of people.
With his contact lenses however, his eyesight is improved like that of a short sighted person who wears glasses. Although this is so, he still needs to relax his muscles every so often as bright light strains his muscles.
“This is a rare disability. My contacts are straight from overseas they are not manufactured here. So it costs a lot. I have to buy eye drops and all those things might cost about R3000 a month.”
He does not have medical aid and his parents could not cover all the costs for his treatment. He therefore started small businesses and investments while in residence at Barnato.
“I had a little tuckshop and I also had small investments (in a friend’s construction company) and other business connections.”
Lephoto still invests and is currently saving money to have surgery so he does not go blind and can have normal vision.
Hofmeyr said Lephoto would need a retina transplant which could cost up to R80 000. Lephoto said his doctor had offered to pay for half of the surgery.
Lephoto dreams of starting an investment holdings company and a school for children who are disadvantaged and have potential to do well academically.
“You get kids out there who are really smart but because they do not have the financial means to develop their education so they end up becoming nothing. So I just want to make a lot of money and have a school for children like that so that they can also become something, whatever they want to be.”
Hofmeyr said he was very proud of what Lephoto had achieved and hoped that he would make enough money to get his surgery.