The Taco Kuiper Award for Investigative Journalism recognises outstanding examples of journalism, that reveal untold stories, hold the powerful to account and question those in public life. The top prize is R200 000 and the runner-up wins R100 000.
The Award is open to journalists and broadcasters (which includes online and photography) for stories about South Africa. The call for entries is made each January for stories from the previous calendar year. Grants are available to support investigative projects that will otherwise not get published.
The Award can be made to a journalist or team of up to three journalists. It can be for a single story or a series of up to six related stories published or broadcast.
The entries must deal with issues and events affecting South Africa.
Winners will be chosen by a panel of judges who have discretion to set and use criteria they consider to be appropriate and reasonable.
- An Editor may enter up to two stories or series of stories from material they have published or broadcast.
- Any individual journalist, member of the public or organisation can make a single nomination.
A PRINT ENTRY: Each entry must include:
- Copies of the story/stories as published.
- A biography (200 words) and photo of each journalist.
- A short motivation for the entry (maximum 500 words), including any background the judges should be aware of, an indication of the impact of the story and details of any significant challenge to the accuracy or fairness of the entry.
- Publications not in English must be accompanied by an English translation or transcript.
- Photographs, cartoons, graphics can be included.
- A hard copy and an electronic copy must be supplied as follows:
The hard copy entry should be:
- Bound or in a loose-leaf folder, but not glued onto paper or card mountings, and no fold-out material to be included
- If the original is reduced in size it must be accompanied by a readable word document version.
- A cover sheet with the story title, publication, date of publication and name/s of journalists,
- Six hard copies of the entry should be delivered to: Taco Kuiper Awards, Wits Journalism, 10th floor, University Corner, Jorissen Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg, for the attention of Margaret Renn
- An electronic copy including the original published material, cover sheet, motivation letter, biography, photo and publication logo to be emailed at the same time to email@example.com
A BROADCAST ENTRY: Each entry must include:
- The programme/s as broadcast.
- A biography (200 words) and photo of each journalist.
- A short motivation for the entry (maximum 500 words), including the any background the judges should be aware of, an indication of the impact of the story and details of any significant challenge to the accuracy or fairness of the entry.
- Broadcasts not in English must be accompanied by an English transcript.
- Six copies on CD or DVD, clearly marked on the disc with the programme title and transmission date, and the box cover with the programme title, transmission date, broadcast station, journalists’ names, to be delivered to: Taco Kuiper Awards, Wits Journalism, 10th floor, University Corner, Jorissen Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg, for the attention of Jo-Anne Petersen
- An electronic copy of the motivation e.t.c
Please consult the guidelines above to ensure that any entry or nomination complies with the conditions of the Award.
All entries must be received by Wits Journalism on [CLOSE DATE]. No late entries will be accepted.
Questions and queries about the Awards should be directed to: Jo-Anne Petersen on (011) 717 4085 or Jo-Anne.Petersen@wits.ac.za.
The organisers retain the right to use any material in the winning entry for publicity and promotional purposes relating to the Awards, providing full credit is given to the individuals and the media involved.
The 2013 Taco Kuiper Award went to amaBhungane, the M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism. The team of reporters were represented by Stefaans Brümmer, Sam Sole and Vinayak Bhardwaj.
After receiving the Award on Friday 11 April, Stefaans said it was an award for their whole team as “it was truly a team effort.”
Announcing the Award at the Rand Club, Johannesburg, Anton Harber, Caxton Professor of Journalism and Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand and convenor of judges said “This was undoubtedly the story of the year, in fact of the last five years, and maybe the next five.
“The presidential spokesperson said they were making a mountain out of a molehill, but in fact it was not them that were making a castle out of a kraal, or a palace out of a homestead, but they did reveal it. Few stories have had, and continue to have, such impact. It was work done by a formidable team and we would like to acknowledge them all.”
Central to the team’s reporting was a PAIA, Promotion of Access to Information, request, which finally bore fruit in 2013, when a vast horde or 12 000 documents was handed over.
Msindisi Fengu and Yandisa Monakali of the Daily Dispatch, Hostels of Shame
The judges said of the winners: “East London’s newspaper has identified a way of taking one small item – in this case a remark by an MEC that prisons were ‘far better’ than the Eastern Cape’s rural school hostels – and turning it into a major investigation.
Msindisi set out to visit 70 school hostels. Forty of them turned out be ghost hostels, and did not even exist, and those he saw over two months allowed him to document horrifying conditions.
“This was not a story that arrived in an envelope or was the result of a lucky leak. It required many weeks on the road, visiting each school across the length and breadth of the Eastern Cape to document the appalling conditions in which students had to live.
Msindisi’s persistence, determination and rigour together led to a most important story, powerfully told. And powerfully illustrated by photographer Yandisa Monakali. As a result, at least one official was suspended and the provincial authorities were booted into action.”
Mzilikazi wa Afrika, Rob Rose and Stephan Hofstatter, Sunday Times:
Mac’s dodgy millions“The judges said of the winners: When one takes on a man like Mac Maharaj, one has to have a cast-iron case. That is not easy when it is a case which has stymied the Scorpions. The Sunday Times team spent months pursuing it, and found the smoking gun: a consultancy agreement that set out how money would flow from a company bidding for a major tender with Maharaj’s department to his wife.
They had dates, amounts and bank account numbers – the detail that turns a good investigation into a great one. Maharaj could not take action against the paper, as he had done elsewhere.
He tried bluster, but none of the facts of the story have been challenged. The thud one heard as one read the story was the sound of an important politician being nailed to the wall.”
Mzilikazi wa Afrika and Stephan Hofstatter, Sunday Times: “Police commissioner and the SAPS lease”.
The story by Mzilikazi wa Afrika and Stephan Hofstatter was an extraordinary account of how the Police Commissioner Bheki Cele had influenced a R500-million lease deal with businessman Roux Shabangu without a proper tender process. The series also detailed a similar lease agreement on the cards in Durban.
The judges said of the winning entry: “Despite strong reactions from the authorities, the newspaper was vindicated by the Public Protector and, as we speak, the positions of the Police Commissioner and the Minister of Public Works are up for debate.”
Two days after breaking the story Mzilikazi wa Afrika was ostentatiously arrested on trumped up charges which were subsequently dropped.
Rob Rose, Financial Mail/ Sunday Times: ‘South Africa’s Madoff’.
The award was for a series of articles on fraudster Barry Tannenbaum and the way in which he swindled some of South Africa’s biggest and most respected businessmen and investors out of millions, raising questions on how a seemingly well-connected and influential man could deceive so many of his peers.
Adriaan Basson and Carien du Plessis, Beeld/ Die Burger: ‘Investigation into Corruption at the Department of Correctional Services’
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.
Anton Harber is the Caxton Professor of Journalism and Media Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He was a founder and editor of the Weekly Mail (now the Mail & Guardian); executive producer of the television series Ordinary People and Hard Copy; and chief executive of Kagiso Broadcasting. He is currently chair of internet publishing company BIG Media as well as the Freedom of Expression Institute.
Harber is a recipient of the Pringle Award for Press Freedom and the Missouri Medal of Honour.
He wrote Diepsloot (Jonathan Ball, 2011), winner of the Recht Malan Prize, The Gorilla in the Room (MampoerShorts, 2012) and co-edited the first two editions of The A–Z of South African Politics (Penguin, 1994/5), What is Left Unsaid: Reporting the South African HIV Epidemic (Jacana, 2010) and Troublemakers: The best of SA’s investigative journalism (Jacana, 2010). Harber writes a column in Business Day and a blog at www.theharbinger.co.za.
Margaret Renn joined the Department of Journalism at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg in 2009, as senior fellow in Investigative Journalism.
She has 25 years experience as an investigative journalist in the UK, where she worked with the celebrated British investigative journalist Paul Foot at the Daily Mirror and for Rough Justice, the BBC’s flagship investigative television programme, dedicated to uncovering miscarriages of justice.
Before coming to South Africa she ran the Centre for Investigation Journalism, based at City University, London, which provides training for investigative journalists. She co-authored Margaret Thatcher: A Bad Case of the Blues (Chatto & Windus, 1984) and co-edited Troublemakers: The best of SA’s investigative journalism (Jacana 2010)
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.
Justice Malala is a magazine and newspaper columnist, former newspaper editor and media entrepreneur. Malala currently consults for Johncom on business strategy, writes regular weekly columns for the Sowetan (Malala on Monday) and Financial Mail magazine (Food for Thought) and is the resident political analyst for independent television channel e.tv.
Malala was an executive producer on Hard Copy I and II, a ground-breaking television series on SABC 3 which recently won the Golden Horn Award for best television series. Malala was founding editor of ThisDay, the quality, upmarket South African daily newspaper which was launched on October 7 2003 and folded a year later.
Joe Thloloe is the Director of the Press Council and from 2007 to 2013 was the Press Ombudsman. He has over 50 years’ experience in print and broadcast journalism, working for the Rand Daily Mail, the Sowetan and the SABC.
He also served as chairman of the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) and president of the Union of Black Journalists and Media Workers Association of South Africa. In 2012 he was awarded the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver for his contribution to the liberation struggle, literary writing, journalism and the media in general.
Guidelines for the Taco Kuiper Grants
Taco Kuiper Grants are made to encourage investigate journalism in South African print media. A fund of up to R350 000 is available annually. Grants are available for print journalists or print publications seeking pre-publication help for investigative reporting of public interest. Any amount will be considered.
The fund only accepts projects, including book projects, dealing with contemporary issues that affect South Africa. The fund will not award educational scholarships or grants for professional training. Applications can be from individuals, teams of individuals or a publication. There is no application form.
The applicant must write a letter which sets out the subject to be investigated, how and when the work will be undertaken, why the support of the fund is required and a budget. The letter should be supported by a short resume for each individual involved and, wherever possible, a letter of commitment from an editor or publisher to consider publishing the final product.
All applications will be treated in the strictest confidence. All decisions on grants will be undertaken by a panel whose members will be appointed jointly by the Valley Trust and Wits Journalism. This panel will have sole and final discretion on the grants as well as the criteria used and any conditions attached to them. Recipients will be required to sign a grant agreement with the fund which stipulates the work to be done, a timeframe and budget.
Recipients will be required to report on the progress, outcome and expenditure of the project, to provide copies of all published material and to document the proper use of funds.
The fund will accept no responsibility for the work produced or the conduct of the grantee, but will retain the right to use any material published as a result of a grant for publicity and promotional purposes providing due accreditation is given to the individuals and organisations responsible for the work.
The Fund will ask publishers/journalists to give credit to the Fund when material is published as the result of a grant. Write to Taco Kuiper Grants firstname.lastname@example.org.
Taco Kuiper was a highly successful South African publisher who left a significant part of his estate to the promotion of investigative journalism. As business journalist and publisher Kuiper knew that exposing matters of public concern which those scrutinized would not want to see disclosed, was an enterprise. As he himself did not shy away from taking on public institutions and profiteers of apartheid policy, he thought it important to foster and reward investigative journalism in South Africa.
It was for this reason that Kuiper, shortly before his death in September 2004, set up a fund for investigative journalism within The Valley Trust. The Trust has partnered with the Wits Journalism Programme to carry out Kuiper’s wishes and to administer the Taco Kuiper Award and Fund. Kuiper was born in 1941 in Indonesia and spent his early years in a Japanese internment camp. His parents were Dutch and the family returned to the Netherlands after the war.
He was sent to Johannesburg in the early sixties to work for Barclays Bank. At heart an entrepreneur, he soon started his own investment statistical service. Working out of a tiny flat in Joubert Street, Johannesburg and assisted by two disadvantaged youngsters he established what became the foundation for his business and wealth: The Investors’ Guide.
Kuiper had, a strong love of South Africa and strong views about the extent to which apartheid had financially disadvantaged the black community. By the time he died he had surrendered his Dutch citizenship and become a South African.
His funeral made headlines. In a letter marked ‘not to be opened until after my burial’ he had left instructions that every family present at the funeral service would share in a legacy of R1,000,000.Ninty-two families were there and each received just under R11,000.