After almost 50 years in the media, veteran journalist Joe Thloloe has
been awarded the Alan Kirkland Soga Lifetime Achiever accolade in
recognition of his extraordinary contribution to newspaper journalism
in South Africa, according to a media release.

The current South African Press Ombudsman was applauded for the role he has played in the industry at the eighth annual Mondi Shanduka Newspaper Awards in Johannesburg on Wednesday, May 6.

“This year the award was renamed after Soga, a historic editor from the late 19th century whose credo was, ‘Gainst the wrong that needs resistance; for the good that lacks assistance’,” said chief judge Professor Guy Berger.

"Thloloe’s life personifies this motto. He is possibly the most respected South African journalist and a professional with an unparalleled wealth of courage, compassion and commitment that dates back almost 50 years in the media.”

Thloloe has worked for The World, Rand Daily Mail, Golden City Post and Drum magazine, and is a former deputy editor of Sowetan. He was also editor in chief of both SABC News and News.

A journalist in the apartheid struggle, he was convicted for his part in the 1960 Anti-pass Campaign that led to the Sharpeville Massacre, detained for four months in 1976 following the students’ uprising of that year; detained in 1977 for 18 months under the Terrorism Act; banned in 1981 for three years under the Suppression of Communism Act; and detained, tried and jailed for 19 months between 1982 to 1984.

Thloloe is a former chairman of the South African Editors’ Forum, deputy chairman of the Southern African Editors’ Forum and president of the Union of Black Journalists and Media Workers Association of South Africa.  In 1988, he was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

Other recipients of this lifetime achievement honour include the late Dr Aggrey Klaaste, David Hazelhurst, Raymond Louw and Mathatha Tsedu.

At the same ceremony, on 6 May, Print Media South Africa (PMSA) awarded Sarel du Plessis and Mike Robertson with Print Media Fellowships in recognition of their tireless contribution to the print media at the Mondi Shanduka Newspaper Awards ceremony on Wednesday, 6 May.

Congratulating du Plessis and Robertson, Prakash Desai, president of PMSA, said, “This award is regarded as the industry’s most prestigious. It serves as recognition of key decision-makers who are identified through nominations from their peers and industry stakeholders.”

Du Plessis, CEO of RCP Media, the publisher of Rapport, City Press and Sondag, has worked in advertising and marketing for almost four decades.  He is also CEO of Ads24 – the advertising and trade marketing business unit of Media24 – and senior general manager and publisher of Media24’s Sunday newspapers, Rapport, City Press, Sunday Sun and Sondag.

In addition, du Plessis chairs Mooivaal Media, which publishes 10 newspapers in the Vaal Triangle and North West.  He also serves on the board of Natal Witness Printing and Publishing.

Du Plessis served on the Print Media SA board and NASA board for five years from 2003, the South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF) and the South African Press Association.

Du Plessis has always encouraged and promoted the co-operation of the major media players to the advantage of the print and publishing industry.

Robertson is publisher of the Sunday Times and managing director of Avusa Media. He serves on the board of PMSA, the Newspaper Association of South Africa (NASA) and SAARF.

A former deputy-editor and editor of the Sunday Times, he was instrumental in leading South Africa’s largest and most influential publication through the democratic transition and into the 21st Century with a passion for excellence, constant innovation and absolute integrity.

As Sunday Times publisher and MD of Avusa, Robertson sustained his passion for this newspaper and extended it to other titles, including Sowetan, Sunday World  and regional newspapers, as well as other mediums such as the Internet.

He was the driving force behind the launch of The Times, a South African first, and has ensured that Avusa products remain not only relevant and critical in a democratic South Africa, but sustainable and profitable in an increasingly competitive media environment.

He was tasked by the PMSA and NASA boards to champion the restructuring of the Press Council/Press Ombudsman’s office and played a critical role in this.