2019 Panel of Judges:

Three permanent judges represent out funders the Valley Trust, Wits Journalism and the international media. They are assisted by judges appointed each year.


Tom Cloete is a Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein. He is also one of the five trustees of The Valley Trust, a trust set up by the late Taco Kuiper to promote investigative journalism.

Cloete studied law at Rhodes University and at Oxford where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He was admitted to the South African bar in 1975 and also practised in Botswana and Swaziland.

In 1991, two years after becoming Senior Counsel, Cloete was appointed to the Johannesburg High Court. He was the Senior Judge of the Commercial Court in Johannesburg until he was elevated to the Appeal Court.
He has also served on the High Court of the Kingdom of Swaziland and as an ad hoc Judge of Appeal in Seychelles.

Lizeka Mda is a graduate of Rhodes University and Wits Business School. Over 30 years she has held different positions in the communication and media fields – from a reporter on social, political and economic issues, to title editor, to publisher of several magazines. She has also produced radio programmes for the SABC and the BBC, and is a published writer of fiction and non-fiction.

She is a World Press Institute Fellow, class of 1993, and a Nieman Fellow, class of 2004.



Sarah Carter works for the US television network CBS, based in Johannesburg. She has won awards for several programmes including Death by Denial on Aids in Africa and her investigation into South Africa’s apartheid-era chemical and biological warfare programme.

She teaches the Masters in International Reporting at the Graduate School of Journalism, UBC, Canada. In 2010 her students won an Emmy for their PBS/Frontline documentary Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground, which traced the path of electronic waste around the globe to Ghana, China and India.

Anton Harber, the Caxton Professor of Journalism (Adjunct) at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, has a 35-year career in journalism, media management and training. He was founder-editor of the anti-apartheid newspaper the Weekly Mail (now the Mail & Guardian) for 12 years, Editor-in-Chief of South Africa’s leading television news channel, eNCA, and chief executive of Kagiso Media.

He is a board member of the Global Investigative Journalism Network and a former chair of the SA Conference of Editors and the National Association of Broadcasters. He has served on the boards of the Freedom of Expression Institute, the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism, East Coast Radio and Radio Jacaranda, inter alia. He is the convenor of judges for the Taco Kuiper Award for Investigative Journalism and has served as a judge on the Sanlam Financial Journalism Awards, the Vodacom South African Journalism Awards and the CNN/Multichoice African Journalism Awards.

Harber wrote Diepsloot (Jonathan Ball, 2011), The Gorilla in the Room (Mampoer Shorts, 2013). He co-edited the first two editions of The A–Z of South African Politics (Penguin, 1994/6), What is Left Unsaid: Reporting the South African HIV Epidemic (Jacana, 2010), and Troublemakers: The best of SA’s investigative journalism (Jacana, 2010).

Franz Krüger is Adjunct Professor, head of the Department of Journalism at Wits University and director of the Wits Radio Academy.

He is a journalist of some 35 years’ experience, having worked in print and broadcasting in South Africa, Namibia and the UK, at media groups ranging from the BBC and London Guardian to East London’s Daily Dispatch and the Windhoek Advertiser.  He was founding group editor of East Cape News Agencies, a network of independent news agencies during the eighties which was subjected to considerable repression at the hands of the apartheid government.

As National Editor of Radio News and Current Affairs at the SABC from 1994 to 1999, Krüger formed part of the first post-apartheid management team at the corporation and helped achieve a significant turnaround in the credibility and quality of radio journalism at the corporation. During his spell there, he managed major projects including the coverage of several elections, the Truth Commission, the introduction of sound to bulletins, the overhaul of news and current affairs programming on SAfm and the equalization of news resourcing for African language stations.

In 2000, he left the SABC to become an independent journalist and trainer, serving as correspondent for Canadian, Dutch, US and British radio. He has been director of the Wits Radio Academy since 2009 and head of Wits Journalism since 2016. He has served as Ombud for the Mail & Guardian, continues to serve on the Adjudication Panel of the SA Press Council and is sought after as a speaker, commentator and consultant. His book Black, white and grey: journalism ethics in South Africa was published in 2004.  A second title, The Radio Journalism Toolkit, was published in 2006 (revised 2014), and is being used as a prescribed text at several colleges and universities in South Africa and abroad.  He co-wrote a booklet The Healthy Community Radio Station in 2012.

Krüger has a BA from UCT and an MA with distinction from City University, London.


Thabo Leshilo is Politics and Society editor at The Conversation Africa. He is a journalist and editor with over 25 years’ experience in newspapers. He is a former editor of Pretoria News, Sowetan, Sunday World and Business Times. He has been a political reporter and news editor and has written extensively on events in South Africa as a reporter, features writer and columnist.

Leshilo’s main areas of interest are human rights, education, politics, labour, transport and small business development. He has also worked as a communications strategist. He is a past winner of the Sanlam Business Journalist of the Year Award (small business section).

He has chaired the judging panel for the SAB Sports Media Awards and is one of the judges for the Sikuvile Journalism Awards.

Leshilo is a former Nieman Fellow in journalism at Harvard University (2008/2009). He holds a Masters in Applied Ethics, with a focus on Media Ethics. He also holds a B. Admin degree – with majors in Public Administration, International Relations and Political Development – from the University of Limpopo.


Joe Thloloe was appointed Director in the Press Council of South Africa On February 1, 2013 and retired from the position in February 2018. Before that he was the Press Ombudsman in the council for five years.

Thloloe has been in the media industry for more than fifty years, starting in 1961 on the World newspaper. He has also worked for the Golden City Post, Drum, the Rand Daily Mail, Post Transvaal, and Sowetan, where he was deputy editor.

He has also been editor-in-chief at SABC Television News as well as at e-tv.

Thloloe has been honoured with an iKhamanga in Silver Award by President Jacob Zuma. He also received an honorary doctorate in laws from Rhodes University in 2011 and another in literature from Wits University in 2014. In 2012 he was honoured with the Nat Nakasa Award for courage and integrity in journalism by the South African National Editors’ Forum, Print and Digital Media South Africa and the Nieman Society of South Africa.

Among other awards Thloloe has received the Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University, the Louis Lyons Award for Courage and Integrity in Journalism, as well as the Alan Kirkland Soga Lifetime Achievers Award at the Mondo Shanduka Awards in 2008. Thloloe was also given a Lifetime Achiever Award at the Vodacom Journalism Awards in 2013.

Thloloe has contributed to journalism training and the development of the media industry in South Africa.