/ 20 October 2017

Mail & Guardian walk away happy winners at premier SA journalism awards

The winners from the Sikuvile 2017 awards.
The winners from the Sikuvile 2017 awards.

It wasn’t quite a typical Thursday for the Mail & Guardian this week. As we scrambled to meet our deadline for our paper edition, the team hurried to attend South Africa’s premier journalism ceremony, the Standard Bank Sikuvile Awards.

And we are delighted to announce that the work of the M&G journalists team continues to be marked among South Africa’s best.

Of the 21 awards at the Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalism Awards, the M&G walked away with four prizes celebrating six of our journalists.

In his first year working as a journalist, Malcolm Sekgothe won his first award for multi-platform storytelling for a piece he did with Athandiwe Saba and Delwyn Verasamy. The team was awarded for their work on “Unitrans stalls over vital back pay” where Saba reported, Verasamy photographed and Sekgothe filmed. The judges found that the piece’s investigative qualities and “well-shot and end edited video interviews” shone a light on the plight of 94 drivers.

There were 33 entries over a range of topics in the columns and editorial category, which the M&G’s Phillip de Wet won for his piece “Rainbowism comes to wine gums — and the black ones get a ghetto”. The judges found his article to be creatively refreshing by tracking the history of wine gums as a means to address central issues of South Africa’s past and future.

Two M&G reporters were nominated for the enterprise and news category where Lisa Steyn was a runner up and commended for her article “From Boom to Bust in Five Years”, vividly painting the complexity of an economy depending on one commodity. Laura López González from Bhekisisa won this category with her article “The Big Chill” which was on the freezing of health worker’s posts. Although González was not with the M&G when she wrote the piece, M&G chief executive Hoosain Karjieker said, “Laura’s award is testimony to the excellent work she continues to do and we are delighted to count her among us”.

The M&G also walked away with the Joel Mervis Award which, Karjieker explains is, “Testimony to the hard work of our picture editor, copy editors, layout editors, and production staff — really it is recognition to the quality of our work.”

Story of the Year went to Rapport’s Suzanne Venter for her work on the Life Esidimeni stories where she faced down intimidation and being held hostage to tell the stories. Venter also took home the Investigative Journalism prize.

The most coveted prize, South African Journalist of the Year, went to City Press’ Sipho Masondo for his series of stories on the corruption around managing South Africa’s water resources, the central figure being Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane. In the course of his reporting Masondo turned down massive bribe offers and survived threats on his life, seemingly instigated by state agents.

At the M&G’s weekly debrief, editor-in-chief Khadija Patel was applauded for her first year in office and Karjieker congratulated her and her team for their work.

“The M&G is committed to quality journalism,” said Patel, “and this is recognition of the hard work done by this team every day. I am absolutely delighted, and look forward to many, many more awards for this team.”