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first Taco Kuiper Award for Investigative Journalism – the largest South
African journalism prize – has gone to two reporters from Beeld for their
expose of former Commissioner of Prisons, Linda Mti.

judges described the work of Adriaan Basson and Carien du Plessis as “a model
investigation conducted with enterprise, tenacity and courage”. The series of
stories led to the early departure of the Commissioner of Prisons and the
department’s chief financial officer last year.

reporters shared R200 000.

recognized were

– The Mail & Guardian team for its coverage of the
links between Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi and dubious members of the
gangster world, and

– Fred Kockott and Sibusiso Ngwala from the Sunday
Tribune for “Ngunigate” the story of KZN politicians sharing the national Nguni
cattle herd among themselves and their spouses.

share the second prize of R100 000.

praised the range and scope of investigative work they received. “If this standard
of reporting continues, then we can rest assured that our democracy will be
strengthened by the fact that those who abuse power and authority will face
intense scrutiny and devastating exposure,” said Professor Anton Harber,
convenor of the judging panel. “Good
investigative journalism is the piston in the engine of accountability, and the
engine is firing.”

Awards are the result of a partnership between the Valley Trust and the Wits
Investigative Journalism Workshop.


Prize: Beeld’s newly-established investigative team, working with sister paper
Die Burger, conducted a model investigation. They picked up a snippet at a
parliamentary portfolio committee hearing about a dubious multimillion rand
tender and pursued it relentlessly over ten months, conducting scores of
interviews and
through masses of documentation. It took tenacity and courage, as they were
often threatened with court action. They first found a link between the
Commissioner of Prisons and the company which won the tender, and then – in a
remarkable piece of enterprise – had an independent computer expert show that
the tender document had been written by the company which won it. This is the
stuff of powerful, thorough and ground-breaking reporting. The story was
tightly edited, concise and strongly presented, giving it strong and immediate
impact. The evidence presented was solid and irrefutable, with all sources
named. They topped it off with a final report revealing that the Prison’s Chief
Financial Officer, a key figure in granting the tenders, was totally
unqualified for his post. The story led to the early departure of both the
Commissioner and the CFO. It is a report that would serve well as a case study
for aspirant investigators.

Prize: The Mail & Guardian’s team may not have broken the Brett Kebble
story, but they certainly broke important new ground when they showed the links
between his dubious gangster friends and the Commissioner of Police. They
showed great courage in taking on some very powerful people, and their story
has held up under intense scrutiny. It is a story which still demands answers
from the government.

Prize: The Sunday Tribune’s Ngunigate was sparked by a tip-off, but it took
great persistence and thoroughness to nail down the evidence. It was a story of
more local impact than the others, but no less important and impactful for
that. It exposed gross patronage, with KZN politicians abusing the national
Nguni cattle herd and the Ithala Finance Development Corporation for their own
benefit. The KZN premier was forced to return the cattle given to his wife and
the provincial government was forced to account for the way they were using
public resources. It was hard-hitting, important and a worthy winner.

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