In-depth 2022: The Climate Crisis is Here

The In-depth Reporting Project, The Climate Crisis is Here, was produced by 2022 
career-entry honours in journalism class at the Wits Centre for Journalism. 
The class of nine students explored the visible and future impacts of unmitigated 
climate change on ordinary South Africans and their surrounding communities. 

Is green the new black?

By Rufaro Chiswo

Sustainable fashion is a trending topic in the garments industry, but is it just for show and only for a season, or is it a clarion call for lasting change?

Trends are the life blood of the fashion industry. In the 1970s bell-bottoms were all the rage; in the late 1990s and early 2000s it was the baguette bag; and now it’s going green. ”Sustainable fashion” is on the lips of most fashionistas and major brands, but what exactly does the term mean?

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Pricey foods cost lives of the poor

By Malaika Ditabo

Although South Africa is a food-secure nation, food insecurity plagues townships such as Alexandra. The lack of access to affordable nutritious goods has stunted many low-income households.

 

Atthe time of writing it is the end of September and the official arrival of Spring, but the first seasonal rains have not yet fallen.  It has instead ushered in a disturbingly harsh and unfamiliar heat which hits Alexandra township in Johannesburg, amplifying the unwelcome, pungent stench of the mountains of trash on the banks of the Jukskei River. The distinct odour is accompanied by petrol fumes from the nearby Sasol station, along with the scent of chicken frying at KFC at the entrance of Marlboro Drive. A heady mix for one’s senses to contend with.

 

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To eat or not to eat the cow: That is the question

By Elishevah Bome

As the world creeps closer to climate crisis D-day, will a moo-ve to a plant-based diet really make a difference? 

Old MacDonald had a farm, Ee i ee i oh… And on his farm he had some cows, Ee i ee i oh. With drastic effects on land here, and drastic effects on air there… Here some CO2, there some methane too, everywhere a moo-moo. Old MacDonald had a farm, Ee i ee i oooh.

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“In just one year, I learned so much from both my peers and lecturers about being detail-orientated and committed to good storytelling.”

Rufaro Chiswo

The willingness of people to speak and share their stories truly reflected the importance of human connection. People just want to be heard, respected and acknowledged.”

Malaika Ditabo

“I learnt that journalism takes more than just putting pen to paper and talking to people, it takes grit. Before this year my grit bucket was barely full, now it’s overflowing.”

Elishevah Bome

Harvesting platinum, harnessing profits, harming people

By Tannur Anders

Experts say the developed world is mostly to blame for climate change, and with global attempts to mitigate this crisis South Africa’s solution and profits cannot come at the cost of those living close to platinum mines.

Gilbert Moela awakes to the sound of a mining machine, the same noise the mining-affected communities activist falls asleep to at night. Moela lives 1km from the Bokoni Platinum Mine in his Limpopo village.

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Climate change and migration in SA

By Mpho Hlakudi

Climate-displaced persons share their experiences with host communities amid water scarcity.

On bad days you can smell the horrible stench of sewage from a distance. A hot, oppressive wind blows through streets lined with garbage heaps. This is Huhudi, a township outside Vryburg in North West province.

Like many other residents, the Reverend Gregor Mascher (51) struggles to survive. He has the added responsibilities of being a Lutheran priest, the father of one child and a poultry subsistence farmer. He once reared more than 200 chickens, but now has only 50.

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Cattle farmers have beef with climate change

By Colin Hugo

Methane and cattle farming go hand in hand as a cause of climate change, but the smaller farms with little impact in the industry are struggling for their survival.

Cattle farming has been around for many centuries, with the first domesticated herds being established about 10 000 years ago. The meat and milk derived from cattle is used in a variety of products and is a valuable food source for millions of people across the world. As the old saying goes, however, ”nothing lasts forever”, and is the cattle-farming clock ticking faster than expected?

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I met incredible people, who were grateful that their daily experience of being negatively affected by the mine, would be shared. I could not offer much to the dry, dusty and poverty-stricken area and its people, but I was able to share their story, which I believe is the responsibility of a journalist.”

Tannur Anders

“I learned a lot about climate change and in the few weeks that I had to conduct research, shoot multimedia, travel and interview sources,  I went from being a climate sceptic to being obsessed with water. So, I am happy with the journey, the people I’ve met along the way and the memories.

Mpho Hlakudi

“I had a great time meeting people from all walks of life and learning about how things work. The trips to the farms were particularly fun… There has been a lot of learning… All the skills I have learned particularly the people skills will only help me in my future endeavours.”

Colin Hugo

Alexandra residents live on the edge of a health hazard

By Keamogetswe Matlala

Dump sites come back to bite the residents of Alexandra, north of Johannesburg, as air-borne and vector-borne diseases rise and living conditions deteriorate. 

Construction rubble piled up in a heap, disused household items and office furniture, branded cardboards ripped out of their commercial life, crinkled-up paper carrying designs of ink from one end to another. Empty takeaway containers greased with oil…

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‘Going green’: can small restaurants afford to be environmentally friendly?

By Tylin Moodley

Introducing sustainable and greener systems into a small business is believed to be costly, but some restaurants have found a way to make it work and cover their costs simultaneously. 

Plastic, food waste, and energy consumption are just some of many factors contributing to the climate crisis not only in South Africa, but the whole world. Recycling and zero-waste systems such as composting and reducing use of electricity are just some of the small ways to contribute to the fight against climate change. Even though the issue needs to be addressed on a much larger scale, by holding major corporations responsible, everyone can still do their bit…

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Water scarcity leaves residents reeling

By Busisiwe Mdluli

A long-standing water crisis in Johannesburg affecting areas such as Brixton, Hursthill and Crosby has resulted in residents being dependent on roaming water tanks and filling up buckets with water from taps for their daily activities.

On September 26, 2022, Johannesburg Water released a media statement that announced a power failure at Rand Water’s purification works. High demand for water resulted in Johannesburg Water’s infrastructure being at critically low levels as storage capacity decreased from 52% to 38%.

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It was no longer about me and this honours degree, but to tell the stories of the African child, especially the marginalised and impoverished.”

Keamogetswe Matlala

“The in-depth project gave me the opportunity and time to fully connect and learn about people beyond research and interview purposes.”

Tylin Moodley

I have learnt about my ability to persevere, to accept rejection, and be willing to learn and most importantly, to step outside of my comfort zone.”

Busisiwe Mdluli