This week, frequent Mail & Guardian contributor Ruth Hopkins won the Webber Wentzel Legal Journalist of the year award for her piece Presumed innocent, rotting in jail, which was published in the M&G in March this year.
The piece explored the case of Victor Nkomo, who is the longest remand prisoner in the country. Nkomo has waited eight years in prison for the finalisation of his trial, for which he was charged with aiding an armed robbery in 2006.
Hopkins, who is part of the Wits Justice Project team, took the print award while Joe Thugwana, who produces SABC TV programme, Cutting Edge, won the broadcast category.
In October, another frequent contributor to the M&G, Sean Christie, won the CNN African Journalist of the Year award for economics and business. His piece, Zimbabwe’s forests are going up in smoke, digs into the claim that Chinese demand has revived Zimbabwe’s tobacco industry which, he found, is causing the nation’s food crops to suffer as well as leading to major deforestation.
Christie, who was also commended for his environmental writing at the CNN African Journalist Awards in 2012, is known for his outstanding narrative journalism contributions at the M&G, including his piece On the road with heroin smugglers in which he journeyed with small time smugglers from Tanzania to South Africa for a special edition on drugs which ran in July.
Also commended at the CNN Awards for news impact was Vinayak Bhardwaj and Tabelo Timse, both from the M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism. Bhardwaj, who recently joined the Open Society Foundation, South Africa, also won the Taco Kuiper Award for Best Investigative Journalism South Africa for 2013/2014 together with the investigative team.