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Vodacom celebrates northern/southern region winners of the 2011 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards

Friday, 7 October 2011

This morning the winners of the northern/southern region for the 2011 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards were presented with their prizes and applauded by the judges at a champagne breakfast event at the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice in Johannesburg.

After an entry period that lasted a month, and a rigorous judging process involving 13 judges, Vodacom is thrilled to announce the regional winners of the 2011 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards.

Overall, the judges were very impressed with the quality of the work submitted by the regions. The winning journalists put intelligent thought into their stories and spent time researching and thoroughly analysing their work.

The northern/southern region entries covered an array of topics, with hard hitting stories around corruption, health issues and hate crime, all displaying excellent investigative reporting. 

Convenor of the judges for the Awards, Advocate Robin Sewlal commented, "The competition provides a wonderful opportunity for journalists to be duly recognised for their commitment to quality journalism. In this, the 10th year of the contest, we've received an incredible number of entries, where the work displays tremendous dynamism and depth. The robust debates during the adjudication process ensured that only top-of-the-drawer entries were rewarded. On the behalf of the panel of judges, I thank those who entered and offer heartiest congratulations to the winners in each of the categories. You've done yourself and the country proud."

The citations and winners of the 2011 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards in the northern/southern region are:

2011 Columnist winner
Janet van Eeden, Independent Newspapers, Sunday Independent, Get over yourself - after all, it's just sex.

We often only realise that times have changed when we can no longer participate intelligently in discussions with our young ones, or when the subjects they raise make us feel uncomfortable. This becomes evident when an issue such as sex is raised, and you immediately look around to see who else is listening (because you're embarrassed). The writer wonders aloud and questions the constant flurry of topics and issues around sex in various news channels - whether it be a billboard, a newspaper or a radio station.

The winner is Janet van Eeden for Independent Newspapers, the Sunday Independent for the piece ‘Get over yourself - after all, it's just sex'.

2011 Consumer Journalism winner
Herman Scholtz, Media 24, Rapport, Frozen chicken horror.

Some of the best investigative stories are born out of casual conversations with complete strangers. A good newshound smells the scent and follows its trail. Once he had established the need for an investigation, this journalist worked hard to gain the confidence of his source, obtaining all the background information plus documentary proof. His meticulous research resulted in one of South Africa's biggest consumer scandals and a major investigation by the Department of Agriculture. Our winner in this category is Herman Scholtz from Rapport for his ‘Frozen chicken horror' stories.

2011 Financial/Economic winner
Lindokuhle Xulu, Moneyweb, ICT: Allegedly forged signatures, stole identities.

If unemployment and crime is South Africa's primary Achilles heel, then corruption has become so common in our everyday life - particularly in the public sector - that it has had the effect of numbing the soul and moral consciousness of society who no longer raise an eyebrow when they see or read aboutsuch stories. And this provides the perfect setting for a slide down the road to decadence. No sooner had a group of politicians settled in their positions, than members of their families became instant billionaires. How was that possible? The answer:  the establishment of various business entities whose primary objectives were to make use of their connections to amass wealth. The story of a ‘forged signature' in order to acquire a prospecting licence for mining rights shows the extent the country has slid towards seeing corruption as an institution in our society.

The winner is Lindokuhle Xulu of Moneyweb, for his persistent search for the truth in the ICT/Kumba saga which revealed that the signature, purported to be that of a geologist, was in fact forged.

2011 Online journalism winners
Lauren Clifford-Holmes, Mail & Guardian, Mail & Guardian Online, How Shangaan went electronic and then global.
Lloyd Gedye, Mail & Guardian, Mail & Guardian Online, How Shangaan went electronic and then global.
Paul Botes, Photographer, Mail & Guardian, Mail & Guardian Online, How Shangaan went electronic and then global.

This was a beautiful piece of work embodying fine skills in writing, investigation and storytelling. It also showed great sensitivity to the issue as well as knowledge of the topic and the central characters in the Shangaan disco landscape. The video material represented the highest quality of all the online entries and, supported by the writing, became a case study in how to rekindle knowledge of a forgotten culture.

The winners are Lauren Clifford-Holmes, Lloyd Gedye and Paul Botes of The Mail & Guardian, Mail & Guardian Online for ‘How Shangaan went electronic and then global'.

2011 Photography winner
James Oatway, Avusa, Sunday Times, Afghanistan at war.

Part of true photojournalism is to risk one's life just to be able to capture events as they unfold.

The winner is James Oatway of Avusa, Sunday Times for his entry ‘Afghanistan at war'.

2011 Print: Feature winner
Sam Sole, Mail & Guardian Newspaper, Radovan Krejcir: The mobster at the gates.
Stefaans Brümmer, Mail & Guardian Newspaper, Radovan Krejcir: The mobster at the gates.
Ilham Rawoot, Mail & Guardian Newspaper, Radovan Krejcir: The mobster at the gates.

A masterful investigation and damning report of alleged Russian born mobster, Radovan Krejcir. Extraordinary investigative skills open a can of worms. This entry is a tribute to the tenacious and incisive attribute of some of South Africa's foremost investigative journalists.

The winners are Sam Sole, Stefaans Brümmer and Ilham Rawoot of The Mail & Guardian Newspaper, for their entry ‘Radovan Krejcir: The mobster at the gates'.

Merit Mentions by the judging panel:
Mandy Wiener, Associated Magazines, Marie Claire, Lolly Jackson Murder.
Ayanda Sitole, Mail & Guardian Newspaper, Body of work: Locals have Soweto sewn up and I want my kids to be righteous and Rasta.

There are two merit mentions.

Firstly, to Mandy Wiener for her well written and researched Marie Claire magazine feature on the murder of Teazer boss, Lolly Jackson. The story provides readers with powerful insight into the belly of the beast that is South Africa's underworld.

Secondly, to Ayanda Sithole of Mail & Guardian Newspaper for her pieces ‘Locals have Soweto sewn up' and ‘I want my kids to be righteous and Rasta'. Ayanda Sithole's perceptive and beautifully written pieces on Soweto fashion designers and on a Rasta family in Soweto are resplendent with colourful prose that underlines the swagger and deliberate poise which punctuates township life.

2011 Print: General News winner

Stephan Hofstatter, Avusa, Sunday Times, Bheki Cele's R500m police rental deal.
Mzilikazi wa Afrika, Avusa, Sunday Times, Bheki Cele's R500m police rental deal.

The journalists broke the story of an irregular signing of a controversial lease agreement for a Pretoria office block by police chief Bheki Cele. Despite angry official denials, the Public Protector's investigation confirmed the substance of the Sunday Times reports. It became one of the major news stories of the year and has ongoing ramifications. Excellent investigative skills, lucid writing.

The winners are Stephan Hofstatter and Mzilikazi wa Afrika of Avusa, Sunday Times for the entry ‘Bheki Cele's R500m police rental deal'.

Merit mentions by the judging panel:
Luzuko Pongoma, Avusa, Sowetan, Aurora mine murders.

A merit mention goes to Luzuko Pongoma of The Sowetan for the piece Aurora mine murders. Luzuko first reported the killing of illegal miners at the Aurora mine and followed it up with several other stories which bore the brunt of official denials. At considerable risk, a rare initiative was shown by going deep underground to interview miners and relatives of the victims. This is a good example of keen journalism reporting from the scene and supplying illuminating eyewitness accounts.

2011 Radio: Feature winner
Krivani Pillay, SABC, SAFM Midday Live, Living positively with HIV.

There were several noteworthy winning contenders in this category, with most adhering to the requirements for intense research and analysis on critical issues accompanied by a good use of sound and powerful storylines. One piece stood out simply because the reporter went the extra mile to take the listener beyond the experience of one, but touched on other issues and aspects pertaining to an HIV pandemic, giving the infected hope, and the afflicted a better understanding of how to deal with the situation.

For her very powerful, grounded and holistic account of ‘Living positively with HIV' the winner is SABC Radio News Reporter Krivani Pillay.

2011 Radio: General News winner
Rahima Essop, Primedia Broadcasting, 702 Talk Radio, The Andries Tatane Story.

Radio news is about breaking stories. Sometimes the radio news reporter is at the mercy of a competitor who has the scoop of a story that shocks the nation. When a radio news reporter can pick up on such a scoop and deliver it with precision, credibility and tenacity for the relevant sound bite and on-the-spot reports, who got the story first is irrelevant.

For her intense hunger for the core values of a good, breaking news story and for creatively patching together the ever-changing developments on the brutal death of Andries Tatane, the winner is Eye Witness News reporter Rahima Essop from 702 Talk Radio.

2011 Sport winner
Sameer Naik, Independent Newspapers, Saturday Star, The Best World Cup Ever.

Very little else mattered in 2010.  The Football World Cup took centre stage for most South Africans. Since South Africa was announced as the host of the showpiece, a fervent anticipation and palatable excitement engulfed the nation. It was a story that every journalist would love to cover. This journalist played an incredible role off the field of play. He cleverly captured various behind-the-scenes happenings, including the complicated ticketing system and chaos at the queues, the pride and passion of the nation and the many tourism opportunities. He even spoke with the creator of the ‘makarapa'. Such human interest angles helped to keep the reader fully engaged.

For his body of work on the 2010 Football World Cup, the winner in the Sport category is the Saturday Star's Sameer Naik.

2011 Television: Feature winner
Asanda Magaqa, SABC, SABC News, No woman's land.

People will go to desperate lengths to find a better life for themselves. This gripping story used a variety of interviewees to give an in-depth account of the horrors economic refugees face in trying to get into South Africa.

The winner is Asanda Magaqa of SABC, SABC News for the piece ‘No woman's land'.

2011 Television: General News winners
Mpho Lakaje, eNews, Hate crime.
Fathima Simjee, Health-e News Service, Morning Live, SABC, Positive Heroes.

The judges chose two worthy joint winners for the northern/southern Television: General News category.

The first piece, Hate crime, in the midst of a national event, found an off-beat way to highlight how a marginalised group used the game of soccer for social education.  It was beautifully executed, every shot meaningful, and woven together as a compact narrative around two disparate subjects: soccer and lesbianism.

The second piece, Positive Heroes, demonstrated that even within the strict confines of a news report, one can create a complete and satisfying mini-documentary.  Strong case studies, good interviews and solid background information, combined with exceptional camera work and editing ensured that the story made its point: you can live fully, and even run the Comrades, in spite of being HIV positive.

The winners are Mpho Lakaje, eNews for Hate crime and Fathima Simjee, Health-e News Service, Morning Live, SABC for Positive Heroes.

2011 Editors Choice winners
The Editors Choice Award for the northern and southern region is a shared award for Rahima Essop, Primedia Broadcasting and Lionel Faull, Mail & Guardian.

2011 Cartoonist winner
Wilson Mgobhozi, Independent Newspapers: The Star, Pretoria News, The Mercury, Isolezwe, One man, One wife!

Newsworthy, creatively illustrated and humorous news stories always take us on a journey of fun with the added element of reality. Here we witness two leaders taking a different stance on the number of wives one is allowed to have.

The winner is Wilson Mgobhozi of Independent Newspapers for The Star, Pretoria News, The Mercury, and Isolezwe for his entry ‘One man, One wife!'

The judges for the 2011 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards included, Advocate Robin Sewlal (Convenor), Maud Motanyane (Co-convenor), Ruda Landman, Professor Johann de Wet, Mary Papayya, Victor Matom, Dr Melanie Chait, Arthur (ZB) Molefe, Colin Nxumalo, Leonard Maseko, Tim Modise, Arthur Goldstuck and Max du Preez.

The regional winners were each awarded R7500 and also stand a chance of being crowned the national winner of the 2011 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards at the national awards ceremony to be held on 4 November 2011 in Johannesburg.

The overall 2011 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards national winner will walk away with R125 000 in prize money, as well as being given the opportunity to donate an additional R125 000 to an official charity of his or her choosing.


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