Mail & Guardian journalists shone at the 10th annual Mondi Shanduka awards on Tuesday evening, taking home — among other awards — the South African Story of the Year and Newspaper Journalist of the Year.
The Mondi Shanduka awards, held at the Turbine Hall in Johannesburg, recognises excellence in the newspaper industry.
The M&G amaBhungane investigative team, headed by Sam Sole and Stefaans Brummer, won the prize for South African Story of the Year for their investigative series on Zuma Inc , the Zuma family’s business empire. Ilham Rawoot, Adriaan Basson, Jackie Mapiloko and Mahlatsi Gallens were also acknowledged for their contribution to the series.
The convenor of the judging panel, Rhodes University’s Guy Berger, said, “The team sank their teeth into the issue and did not let go. Instead, they systematically worked their way through the many complex stories they unearthed and which they summed up as the rise of the Zuma Inc. This journalism set the agenda which other media could not but follow.
M&G editor in chief Nic Dawes said, “The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism was founded in order to pursue investigative journalism in the public interest, to advance the training of journalists from South Africa and the region in investigative techniques, and to engage in advocacy around issues related to freedom of information and the media.
“The amaBhungane investigation into the business interests of President Zuma’s family is a perfect example of the kind of work the centre was created to do. Patient, detailed, and agenda setting, it raised questions about the nexus between politics and commercial interests that dominated the news cycle for the rest of the year.”
Matuma Letsaolo earned the title of South African Journalist of the Year and the Investigative Journalism category for his series of articles related to Noluthando Vavi, wife of Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.
Letsoalo impressed judges when he single-handedly blew the lid on an important story relating to the corrupt business activities of Mrs Vavi. He was also the winner in the Investigative Journalism category for the same series of articles.
“Letsoalo broke an important story at a time when its indirect subject, Zwelinzima Vavi, could be described as having become endeared to the media through his anti-corruption stance,” said the judges. “It was a story with consequences, and it entailed excellent follow-up as it unfolded,” they added.
The video evidence of Veon Bock, CEO of financial services company SA Quantum, where Letsoalo is offered R120 000 to suppress his story about regular payments to Noluthando Vavi, was the third most-watched video. We caught him on a hidden camera as an associate handed over R40 000. The video received 20 083 unique page views.
Dawes commented, “At a time when casual assaults on the integrity of journalists are the order of the political day, Matuma not only refused a bribe attempt, he reported it bravely and rigorously. The effort to buy his silence not only failed, it sharpened his focus on the serious conflicts of interest and corruption at the heart of the relationship between trade unions and the financial sector.”
Other awards and recognition for the M&G included:
Winner: Analysis, commentary and enterprise news category
Samantha Reinders and Mara Kardas-Nelson – ‘Blood, sweat and water‘ series on acid mine drainage (Mail & Guardian)
Finalist: Feature Writing
Niren Tolsi – ‘Fear and loathing in Obamaland’
Finalist: Creative Writing
Nikiwe Bikitsha – ‘Hanging up my wig’
Finalist: Editorial Cartoons
Jonathan ‘Zapiro’ Shapiro – ‘Zumaglue’; ‘Feel it … it is here!’; ‘Evolution of Democracy’; ‘Aids message’; ‘On second thoughts’; ‘Baby shower’
Finalist: Graphical Journalism
John McCann – ‘Cronin’; ‘Horsemen’; ‘Freedom under threat’ and other entries
The M&G also scooped the the Joel Mervis category, which recognises urban newspapers irrespective of their circulation. The award recognises newspaper excellence in advertising, printing and production, layout and typography as well as balance between the use of pictures and graphics. The judges commented, “A quest for excellence; a newspaper for people who love reading.”
“We’re enormously proud of these awards, and the other M&G finalists in areas as diverse as feature writing, graphical journalism, and cartooning,” said Dawes. “They are a clear result of our commitment to investment in quality and relevance across the newspaper. That commitment wins awards, but it is also the basis of our growing circulation and commercial success.”
The winners in the various categories were chosen from a total of 706 entries and 42 finalists across the 13 categories.
They walked away with R15 000, a Mondi Shanduka nib trophy and framed certificate.
Stephan Hofstatter and Mzilikazi wa Afrika – ‘Cele lied say his generals’; ‘The R4m luxury home Cele made you pay for’; ‘Bheki Cele’s R500m dodgy rental deal’ (Sunday Times)
Analysis, commentary and enterprise news:
Samantha Reinders and Mara Kardas-Nelson – ‘Blood, sweat and water’ series on acid mine drainage (Mail & Guardian)
Dana Snyman – ‘Ons roep hom Sello’ (Beeld, Die Burger and Volksblad)
Matuma Letsoalo – ‘Mrs Vavi, the pension fund and the R40 000 bribe’; ‘Vavi-linked firm in new bribe scandal’; ‘Car given to Vavi’s sidekick’; ‘Company hit by new scandal’; ‘Police set to probe M&G ‘briber” (Mail & Guardian)
Willem Kempen and Louis Kruger – ‘As Mev. Ples op FB was…’ (Beeld, Die Burger and Volksblad)
Wilson Mgobhozi – ‘4 million babies!’; ‘Self demolition’; ‘ET’s final fall 1944-2010’; ‘One man, one wife’; ‘Madiba’s African Dream’ and other entries (The Star)
Rudi Louw – ‘2010 – All the newsmakers’ (City Press)
Yolanda Barnard – ‘Liefdeskind’ (Sondag)
Judy de Vega – ‘Pensioners caught in protest crossfire chaos’ (The Herald)
Cornel van Heerden – ‘Hier is ET doodgekap’ (Foto 24)
Alon Skuy – ‘Hand of devil’ (The Times)
Presentation (Layout and Design)
Andries Gouws – ‘Bafana at the World Cup’; ‘It was here’; ‘Diego’s dance’ (Beeld)
Sameer Naik – ‘The best World Cup ever’ (Saturday Star)
Extraordinary contribution to newspaper journalism
In addition to the Allan Kirkland Soga Lifetime Achievement Award, a special tribute was made to the late Andriette Stofberg, Beeld‘s former deputy editor, for her extraordinary contribution to newspaper journalism. Stofberg, who had been with the paper for 15 years, was highly respected for her commitment to quality and truth.
Prof Berger’s judging panel comprised former editors and senior journalists with prominent records in South African journalism: Peter Sullivan, Mike Siluma, Adrienne Sichel, Pippa Green, Jodi Bieber, Joe Latakgomo, Tyrone August, David Wightman, Juby Mayet, Liesl Louw, Mathatha Tsedu, Tumi Makgabo, Paula Fray and Arrie Rossouw.