Sunday Times team wins award for IJ in SA

The hotshot team consisting of investigative reporters Mzilikazi wa Afrika, Rob Rose and Stephan Hofstatter from the Sunday Times, were announced as the first prize winners of the 6th Taco Kuiper Awards for Investigative Journalism today. Wa Afrika and Hofstatter won the first prize last year as well.

The awards ceremony was held at the Rand Club in Johannesburg, where members of the media and Wits Journalism honoured this year’s entrants for their outstanding investigative journalist work in 2011.

The Mac’s dodgy millions exposé earned the Sunday Times trio the first prize of R200 000. The award judges were very complimentary of the team’s investigative efforts and said: “When one takes on a man like Mac Maharaj, one has to have a cast-iron case. That is not easy when it is a case which has stymied the Scorpions.

The Sunday Times team spent months pursuing it, and found the smoking gun: a consultancy agreement that set out how money would flow from a company bidding for a major tender with Maharaj’s department to his wife. They had dates, amounts and bank account numbers – the detail that turns a good investigation into a great one. Maharaj could not take action against the paper, as he had done elsewhere. He threatened to, but none of the facts of the story have been challenged.

The runners-up were a dynamic investigative team from the East London newspaper, the Daily Dispatch for Dead on Arrival and Exhuming the Truth, reports about newborns at Eastern Cape hospitals dying of infection; and conditions in mortuaries in the province. Michael Kimberley, Msindisi Fengu, Lindile Sifile and Mark Andrews received their prize of R100 000 at the awards ceremony.

The Taco Kuiper Award was launched in 2007 to recognise the best in investigative journalism in South African media
The judges commented that many of the entries dealt with corruption, but this East London paper had a major story. They said it was rigorous and resourceful enterprise journalism on important social issues, powerfully written and presented. The hospital chief was fired and reforms were implemented in the mortuaries.

The Taco Kuiper Award judges were Judge Tom Cloete, of the Valley Trust and the Supreme Court of Appeal; Pippa Green, distinguished journalist, author and academic; Anton Harber, Caxton Professor of Journalism and Media Studies and head of Wits Journalism; Charlayne Hunter-Gault, international representative who has a long and distinguished career in journalism; Justice Malala, well-known writer, editor and publisher; and Margaret Renn, Taco Kuiper Chair in Investigative Journalism at Wits.

The Taco Kuiper Award was launched in 2007 to recognise the best in investigative journalism in South African media and to commemorate the late business journalist and publisher Taco Kuiper, who, shortly before his death in 2005, set up the Valley Trust to promote investigative journalism.

Date: 30 March 2012

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