Former Roving Reporters intern, Sabelo Nsele, now working for The Witness, scooped a regional Vodacom Journalism the Year award last night for exposing fake ANC membership cards in the build-up to the ruling party’s national conference last year.
The Witness’s award winning exposé of shenanigans around the ANC’s membership was “an important piece in the jigsaw that was to determine the person to replace Jacob Zuma (as the ANC’s president),” said convenor of the judging panel, Ryland Fisher.
In KwaZulu-Natal, moves were afoot to influence the voting, and in Richmond in the Midlands, the speaker of the local municipality, Samora Ndlovu, hit on a bright idea to sway things his way.
“Hundreds of fake members were created using a fake FNB stamped deposit slip – needed to show one had paid their dues,” said Fisher. “This seemed to be working until the scam unravelled when our winner (Nsele) investigated the scandal, leading to FNB announcing that the stamp used was fake, and Ndlovu being disciplined.”
“In a province ravaged by killings of political activists in intra party fights, this story is an important contribution to our understanding of the dynamics and extent to which people will go to ensure power and through it access to resources, added Fisher.
Click here to read Nsele’s award-winning entry as published by The Witness and Media 24
Other award winners
The Pen is Mightier than the Sword
Other winners of regional Vodacom Journalist of the Year awards in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga regions were
- Ziyanda Ngcobo and Pieter Theron from Eyewitness News (investigative journalism)
- Matthew Zavides (opinion)
- Freelancer, Glynis Horning and Dasen Thathia from eNCA. (lifestyle/feature)
- Jackie Clausen from Tiso Blackstar (photography)
- Quintin van Jaarsveld from eHowzit (sport)
- Sam Sole, Susan Comrie and Craig McKune from AmaBhungane (economic/financial)
- Julie Laurenz from Nguni TV (CSI/sustainability)
- Dasen Thathiah, Nkanyiso Mdlalose, Susanna Holmes, Terence Stone, and Francois Grobler from eNCA (live reporting/breaking news)
- Jeff Wicks, Suthentira Govender and Lwandile Bhengu from TimesLive. (multi-platform)
- Vuyelwa Mtolo from Media24 (nominated for the 2018 Young Journalist of the Year Award)
Click here to read about the stories that earned the journalist these awards.
How Sabelo cut his teeth as a budding award-winning journalist in 2011.
While serving his internship with Roving Reporters in 2011, Sabelo worked alongside Joel Burton and Sandile Gumede on two ground breaking investigations, the Tale of Two Hijackers and The Turtle Butcher, both of which received accolades at the Taco Kuiper Trust Awards in 2012 and 2013.
“These were fascinating, long-form narrative pieces by journalism students at Durban University of Technology supervised by Fred Kockott, wrote Gill Moodie in the Grub Street Journal.
“A veteran investigative journalist himself and funded by Taco Kuiper grant money, Kockott’s Roving Reporters programme guided the students through two complex investigations that counted as the students’ prac work,” said Moodie.
Both were essentially follow-ups to existing news stories covered in the Durban press:
1). A story of two young hijackers shot dead in a police stake-out on the N3 outside Durban, and
2). The conviction of a man caught red-handed butchering an endangered loggerhead turtle near Kosi Bay in the Isimangaliso World Heritage Site in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
Published in the Durban-based Daily News, the resulting stories went deeper into who these people were, how their lives led up to these crucial points and plugged into bigger themes:
1). How a lapse of parole monitoring allowed the hijackers to continue hijacking, how life appeared pre-ordained for one of the hijackers because his father had been a car thief and the possibility that the police intended to kill the two young criminals.
2). In the case of the turtle butcher, we learn how an impoverished community feel imprisoned on their own land because they have been left out of decisions around the world-heritage site, how the ‘turtle butcher’ had turned to the muthi trade after a lifetime of itinerant labour and retrenchments in KZN and Jo’burg – and how eating turtles was not in fact a long-held tradition in the area and may have even been suggested to locals by tourists.