Sunday Times stripped of journalism award for Cato Manor ‘death squad’ reporting

Conveners of the prestigious Taco Kuiper Award for Investigative Journalism have withdrawn awards given to three Sunday Times journalists for their Cato Manor killings reports due to elements of the story being called into question.

In 2011, the paper ran a front page story titled “Shoot to Kill” which was authored by journalists Stephan Hoffstatter, Mzilikazi wa Africa and Rob Rose. The article claimed to have lifted the lid on “killings committed by an elite police unit”. The three were given the Taco Kuiper Award for Investigative Journalism runner-up award in 2012.

READ MORE: NOT the news. More damage expected in Sunday Times fake news fallout

It was former regional head of the Hawks General Johan Booysen who raised the alarm on aspects of the story.

According to convener Anton Harber, after conducting its own investigation, the awards body will withdraw the runner-up award and has asked that the journalists return it.

“While there was a legitimate story around the Cato Manor unit — the reporting, writing and editing was shoddy and amateurish, leading to serious errors and gaps in the report,” said Harber.


“With the information that has come to light, it is clear that this work did not merit the recognition of the award.”

Entrants to be screened

Harber said the award was given “in good faith, based on the information before us at the time”.

In October, Sunday Times editor Bongani Siqoko issued an apology on the reporting of the Cator Manor killings as more questions were raised on aspects of the story.

“We committed mistakes and allowed ourselves to be manipulated by those with ulterior motives.

“For that, we failed you. We failed SA. We deeply regret it,” said Siqoko at the time.

The awards body has said it had taken extra measures this year to ensure it does not repeat the mistake.

“We have this year subjected entries to detailed screening before our judging process, putting questions to entrants where there was a lack of clarity about any aspect of the story or reporting on it.

“We will be vigilant in ensuring integrity of the award and ensuring that we recognise and encourage the highest quality of investigative reporting in the public interest,” Harber added.

The editor could not be immediately reached for comment at the time this story was published. — News24

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Kamva Somdyala
Kamva Somdyala
Byline at News24

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

Cyril & co rise as Ace’s plot bombs

Magashule’s group and ANC outsiders have made moves to get the president and others to also stand aside

Q&A sessions: Where are the Zuckerbergs of South Africa?

Haroon Meer, the founder of the multimillion-dollar startup Thinkst, talks about international acclaim and South Africa’s need for more tech builders

More top stories

Africa could produce a Covid-19 vaccine sooner than you think

In mere months, Moderna transformed an old Polaroid factory in America into a state-of-the-art vaccine-production centre. Why can’t we do the same?

Condemnation of UCT lecturer misses context

Groups slam UCT professor’s Hitler comment without an understanding of the lecture’s purpose

Environmental organisations demand halt to unnecessary plastic production

NGOs are calling on the department of environment to introduce stricter measures for companies manufacturing and using plastic products

Ramaphosa announces ‘substantial changes’ to armed forces leadership

The SANDF has made headlines over the past year for all the wrong reasons. The new appointments to the Military Command Council aim to offer stability
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…