South Africa’s biggest journalism award, the Taco Kuiper award for
investigative journalism, is about to be handed over for the first
time, writes Michael Tsingo.

The winner or winning team will walk away with a hefty R200 000, while R100 000 will go to the runner up. The winners will be announced April 26.

Entries had to be nominated by editors or a specially constituted nomination panel. The procedure was developed to ensure a high quality of submissions. The judging panel has not announced finalists, and so considerable suspense is expected when 100 invited guests assemble in Johannesburg to see the award made.

The Taco Kuiper Award was launched earlier this year by the Valley Trust in partnership with the Wits Investigative Journalism Workshop (IJW). It was created to commemorate the late business journalist and publisher Taco Kuiper who, shortly before his death in 2004, set up the trust to promote investigative journalism. The award is thus not only the biggest in the country, it is also independent of commercial sponsorship.

It will be awarded annually and aims at encouraging role models in probing, in-depth journalistic work by recognising outstanding examples of investigative print journalism. The Valley Trust and Wits Journalism thus hope to strengthen South Africa’s young democratic structures.

“To foster investigative journalism in South Africa was Taco Kuiper's greatest wish”, says Justice Tom Cloete, a Trustee of the Valley Trust and judge on the Taco Kuiper Award judges’ panel.

The keynote speaker at this year’s hand over ceremony will be Gavin MacFadyen, director of the London Centre for Investigative Journalism, a partner organization of the Wits Investigative Journalism Workshop. MacFadyen is an investigative TV producer and director whose work has been extensively broadcast and published. Among others, he has worked for Granada Television's World in Action, Channel 4's Dispatches, BBC, PBS, Frontline and ABC.