INDABA Newsletter | April 2013

Newsmaker awarded

The South African rhino was awarded the 2012 National Press Club – Aon South Africa Newsmaker of the Year award on 12 April.

Just under 350 members and guests attended this high profile event, with most guests making a huge effort to adhere to the dress code ‘elegantly African.’ Go to our Facebook page to view the photos!

Antoinette Slabbert

The award was handed over symbolically to learners from Pretoria’s Crawford Preparatory School, who pledged to save the rhino for the future of South Africa’s heritage.

Press club chairperson Antoinette Slabbert said at the event that rhino poaching had been in the news consistently the entire year, evoking strong emotions.

“In many respects history was made last year – a record number of 668 rhinos were poached, a harsh sentence of 40 years for a kingpin in the poaching industry was handed down and an international accord to try and stop poaching was signed, to name a few.

“The onslaught on these African giants has not only resulted in much debate in the country and elsewhere in the world, but has also united people to rally behind campaigns against the bleeding of our heritage. It is critical for governments, corporates, individuals and the media to stand up and take action to stop the killing of our rhinos,” said Slabbert.

Aon South Africa’s Chief Executive Officer Anton Roux said the award recognised the efforts of ordinary people, the courts, government, SANParks and other conservation bodies and law enforcement agencies to stop rhino poaching.

“While the rhino has dominated headlines for all the wrong reasons, the media has played a fundamental role in informing not only South Africans, but the world, about the massive tragedy that is unfolding in our country. The media coverage has been pivotal in being able to galvanise the breadth of South African society in the fight to save one of our big five icons. South Africa’s rhino heritage is a precious privilege that can never be forfeited.

“Aon South Africa is proud to be associated with such an award that recognises issues that capture public sentiment and fuel open, democratic debate.”

The annual National Press Club – Proudly SA media award for society upliftment through the media jointly went to M-Net Cares and the Pretoria News.

Journalism awards – congratulations to the winners!

The winners in the National Press Club – North-West University Journalist of the Year awards were announced at the recent newsmaker event.

Cornél van Heerden

They are:
Print media – news: Poloko Tau – The Star
Print media – features: Mia Malan – Mail & Guardian
Print media – photography : Cornél van Heerden – Foto24
Electronic media – radio news: Gia Nicolaides – Eyewitness News
Electronic media – radio features: Mia Malan – Darren Taylor
Electronic media – TV news: Daniella du Plooy – E-Nuus
Electronic media – TV features: Amalia Christoforou – Carte Blanche
Electronic media – cameraperson: Thuthuka Zondi of etv
Media liaison officer: Panyaza Lesufi – Department of Basic Education
Editor: Katy Katopodis – Eyewitness News

For the first time in the history of the competition, the overall Journalist of the Year award went to a photographer, Cornél van Heerden of Foto24. Congratulations Cornél!

Dr Theuns Eloff, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the North-West University saluted the National Press Club to raise the bar when it comes to journalism standards. “Freedom of the media is one of the cornerstones of a democracy. If this award can assist in further improving the quality of journalism in our country, it will have served its purpose.”

The judges in this year’s competition were Gilbert Mokwatedi, Marion Scher, Morris Legoabe, Natalia Rosa, Peter Morey, Phil Mtimkulu, Pluto Panoussis, Tok Grobler and Tshamano Makhadi.

The results were independently reviewed by the press club’s auditing firm Nexia SAB&T.

Secrecy Bill must go to Concourt – SANEF

The Protection of State Information Bill was passed in the National Assembly on 25 April.

In a news release, the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) said that the vote followed changes suggested by the National Council of Provinces.

“Those changes have improved the proposed legislation in important ways, but they do not go far enough. The Bill still has the potential to be used as an instrument of secrecy in a democracy that can only thrive in a climate of openness,” the release says.

“President Jacob Zuma has the option to refer it to the Constitutional Court.

“That is an opportunity he must avail himself of. Members of parliament, too, can send the legislation for constitutional review before it becomes law.

“We have already seen how a process of public engagement has improved the Bill . A full review by the highest court in the land would significantly advance that process, and help to ensure that remaining concerns about its constitutionality are fully addressed.”

Sanef says it is ready to participate in such court process, and in the absence of a process initiated by parliament or the president will make application for a court review.

“This is important legislation which affects the most basic rights of all South Africans, and we can only benefit by ensuring that its final form complies rigorously with constitutional precepts.”

The National Press Club fully supports Sanef’s position on this issue and will lend its full support in any future attempts to stop the Bill from being signed into law.

National Order of the Baobab for Yusuf Abramjee

The National Press Club congratulates and salutes former chairperson Yusuf Abramjee on receiving the Order of the Baobab from President Jacob Zuma for his ‘excellent contribution in community development through Lead SA.’

The award is a National Order – the highest accolade that a country can bestow on a citizen or prominent foreigners.

The Order of the Baobab serves to represent ‘exceptional contribution, and is awarded to South African citizens for distinguished service that goes beyond the call of duty’.

The order takes its name from the baobab tree, which was chosen as a symbol because of its ‘endurance and tolerance, its vitality, its importance in agro-forestry systems, and its use as a meeting place in traditional African societies.’

Abramjee said he was “honoured and humbled” to be receiving the Order of Baobab, Silver.

“To be a recipient of a National Order is an overwhelming privilege and I wish to thank those who nominated me, and President Jacob Zuma and the government for bestowing this honour.

Yusuf Abramjee

“It’s truly a blessing to be in a position to serve my country and its people. I am exceptionally proud of what we have achieved through Lead SA and Crime Line, especially the extraordinary citizens from all walks of life that it has revealed to us. This Order is a tribute to you all,” said Abramjee.

“Serving the community should become the rule, rather than the exception,” he said.

The previous recipients of the Order of the Baobab include the late former Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court, Arthur Chaskalson, prominent academic Barney Pityana and renowned Venda artist Noria Mabasa.

Pipedream or reality?

The National Press Club hosted a conference titled ‘Free media reporting during African elections – pipedream or reality?’ on 11 April.

Nearly 50 representatives from media and electoral institutions from nine African countries attended the one day conference.

Speakers included senior officials from the South African Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and senior representatives from various African media institutions. Among others, delegates were addressed by Terry Tselane, Vice Chairperson of the IEC, Raymond Louw of the Freedom of Expression Institute, Mark van der Velden of the South African National Editors’ Forum, Mosotho Moepya, CEO of the IEC and Michael Schmidt of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism (IAJ).

Journalists participating included Waldimar Pelser, editor designate of Rapport, Mahlatse Gallens, senior producer at the SABC, Barry Bateman of Eyewitness News and Carien du Plessis of City Press.

Michael Schmidt

In concluding the conference, the IAJ’s Michael Schmidt said the editorial policies of the media in South Africa needed urgent overhaul. He said media coverage of elections mostly concentrated on urban areas and he described the coverage of social issues during elections as dismal. He also referred to the gender issue and said 71 percent of all news items had a male-voice as spokesperson. He also called for more serious and in-depth election stories and not only coverage of the election campaigns.

Schmidt described the neutrality of the civil service during African elections as “challenging.” He welcomed the statement that the civil servants in South Africa wanted to build a wall between themselves and the political parties in the country.

See you at emBARgo

Members are reminded about happy hour at the press club bar emBARgo, every Friday from 17:00 to 19:00. The bar is in the cellar of the Orange Restaurant in the Court Classique Hotel, corner of Beckett and Francis Baard (previously Schoeman) Streets, Arcadia.

Thank you for paying membership fees

Thank you to those press club members who have already paid their membership fees for 2013.

Members who have not yet done so, are requested to pay their fees as soon as possible.

Membership fees are R220 for full members, R350 for associate members and R150 for student members.

Members are requested to use their invoice number as reference when payment is done, so that it can be picked up easily by the secretariat.


Please send any news, suggestions or information for this newsletter to Martin van Niekerk at the secretariat on, 082 257 0305. Website | Facebook | Twitter