The Taco Kuiper Award seeks to reward tenacity and bravery among those
who expose malfeasance in our society.

The Mail & Guardian Team

The Mail & Guardian’s
persistent pursuit of police commissioner Jackie Selebi, and his dubious
associations with the underworld, over a two-year period was remarkable
for its doggedness and determination. They did not balk at hunting down
one of the most powerful men in government. To do so required courage
and commitment, and they showed loads of both, amassing such a body of
evidence that eventually the story could no longer be ignored.

newspaper began running the stories in 2006 and continue to this day,
but the judges focused on five editions of the paper during 2007,
covering a total of 15 full pages.

It was not only the quantity of
stories and evidence that won our respect, but the careful collation
and meticulous presentation of disparate strands of evidence. It was
pieced together by a team of seven: Stefaans Brümmer, Stephen Sole,
Zukile Majova, Nic Dawes, Adriaan Basson and Pearlie Joubert. Their
story had and continues to have major social and political impact.

chief of police is on trial and suspended from his job; the president
has come under fire for allegedly protecting him; most important of
all, the message has been sent out loudly and clearly that no one, no
matter how tall they stand, can rise above the law.

The Daily Dispatch Team

One can often judge the nature of a story by the invective it draws from its subjects. The Daily Dispatch’s expose of neo-natal deaths at Frere Hospital was labelled "false" by the President and "lies" by the Health Minister. On the other hand, our judges called it "a model of excellent and powerful journalism".

In the words of one of the panel, "it has everything we were looking for". The paper uncovered every aspect of the story, from the highly technical to the human interest; to get to the evidence, they had to use imagination, creativity and some unusual methodology; it had an enormous impact on the country as a whole; and, when facing criticism, from the highest offices, their story held up well, leading to major positive results for the mothers they were writing about.

It was the work, over about three months, of Brett Horner, Chandre  Prince and Ntando Makhubu. Editor Phylicia Opphelt must be commended for supporting this team and carrying it through with a series of powerful and well-presented stories. Deputy Editor Andrew Trench deserves credit for exceptional news editing in seeing the full potential of a story which started as the complaint of one mother.

Great journalism often involves taking a single case and building it into a larger picture which lays out the context, examines the cause and points fingers at the culprits – and therefore has maximum impact. This is what the Daily Dispatch did.

As a result, and despite her criticism of the newspaper, the Health Minister promised to build a new labour ward, increase the hospital's maintenance budget ten-fold, start a programme to hire extra nurses and doctors and pay them better, and overhaul the management of the institution. It is a testament to the power and value of the best kind of journalism, of which this is most exemplary.

Read the winning stories from the 2007 Taco Kuiper Awards, as well as the judges' remarks.