DM168 Reflection

Truth, Trust and Belief are not negotiable

Wall photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Daily Maverick, Scorpio and amaBhungane have published a mountain of exposés about massive, unforgivable and ungodly levels of corruption, incompetence and treasonous behaviour.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

Unless you have just returned from a few years of living under a rock that is also an internet repellent, you should be aware that South Africa is undergoing the State Capture Commission, better known after its leader, Judge Zondo.

It’s been as far from fun as it is possible in a Euclidean universe; at times it’s been as painful as self-surgery without an anaesthetic. We all knew the rot was deep, just not how debilitatingly bad.

Those who do listen to Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo intently got their reward the week of 25 January, when the shocking secrets of the State Security Agency (SSA) spilled out. Not all of them were secrets, though, apart from the African News Agency’s R20-million services rendered to SSA, which was genuinely shocking though not surprising news; most of the other stuff was already in the public domain, mainly thanks to Daily Maverick, Scorpio, amaBhungane and other investigative journalism outfits.

Remember these stories?

These are but a few of many of Marianne Thamm’s exposés. Most instructive reads. Many years before Zondo, she laid bare what SSA honchos never wanted to see the light of day.

And how about Pauli van Wyk’s very first Scorpio article, about Arthur Fraser, from June 2017?

It was such a damning story and yet Fraser still lords over SA’s prison system.

All these years later, one can read any of these stories and not find a shred of incorrect information in them.

Daily Maverick, Scorpio and amaBhungane have published a mountain of exposés about massive, unforgivable and ungodly levels of corruption, incompetence and treasonous behaviour. We exposed Zuma, the Guptas and their helpers – criminal, corporate and political; we shot x-rays through Ace Magashule and his cash-hungry hordes; we helped SARS right the ship.

We thoroughly exposed Prasa’s, Eskom’s, Transnet’s, and so many other SOEs’ descent into dereliction and disaster; within a string of the VBS bank investigations we exposed the breathtaking hypocrisy of Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu. We unearthed dangerous professional xenophobic networks.

The multiple SAPS corruption investigations were paired with a long string of the Judiciary in Crisis exposés about Judge John Hlope and his disastrous tenure; Joburg’s mayor Geoff Makhubo was proven corrupt; Iqbal Survé’s malfeasance in dealing with the PIC and Dan Matjila was laid bare.

We even stopped corrupt deals from happening – like the leasing of huge swaths of west Pondoland for next to nothing – and let me not even start with pandemic-era corruption.

These are only fragments of our investigative lives – and we did so much more.

So why have I listed all these investigations? Apart from an obvious pride I feel in our incredible team and its success, I hope you will agree that we’ve been laying it all there for you, for all these years. Remember that none of these exposés were challenged in court. Zero.

It might seem like a leap of faith, but I need you to imagine one day hearing from another commission, or hopefully a court, with real charges brought against the corrupt, unscrupulous and evil, that will cover all the stories that we have published.

What will be the chance of the truth emerging being any different from our investigations, all these thousands of facts that we have already put in the public domain? I’m willing to take such a bet.

Journalists in SA pay for exposing the truth by having their lives threatened and their work publicly attacked by trolls and bots. It is my hope that South Africans will cherish the remaining few trusted media brands we still have. This country needs someone to lean on in this age of the most cynical, concentrated and vicious attack on truth since the days of Joseph Goebbels.

As the institutions of democracy crumble around us, we must find the way to emerge from this quagmire. We can start by trusting people who, day in, day out, prove to you that truth, trust and belief are not negotiable. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for free to Pick n Pay Smart Shoppers at these Pick n Pay stores.


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All Comments 10

  • It is fitting that you draw our attention to the critical role that ethical journalists play in society, on the same day that Mahmood Hoosain (Aljazeera journalist) is released from imprisonment, after 1500 days of incarceration in an Egyptian prison …. without any charges against him ! How despicable can things be … and all the time the Myanmar junta, Deutertes and the Modhi’s of the world (to name just a few) watch, to see which way the wind is blowing !

    • Agree Jon….but only concern is despite the exposures by DM and amaPhungani, sometimes loaded with evidence, the NPA is yet to really act, except a few arrests from Bosasa, Ace’s asbestos housing corruption, and some involved in the VBS case, most cases are still just hanging in the air.

  • Dear Branco and team, I am not in a habit of dishing out compliments.
    However, one cannot help to be impressive by the track record of DM, Scorpio and amaBhungane. It is simply outstanding and world-class journalism. Probably even right at the top.
    It would be another eye-opener to compare your budget and the results you achieved with those of the official bodies who have been called to life to catch these culprits on behalf of the country’s citizens. I recently returned to South Africa after a three-year sailing excursion on a shoestring budget and did not follow S.A news as religiously as before. Upon returning I realised there was only one answer- supporting your efforts by paying for quality news. I know it is not a lot by far, but I trust it will help to keep the doors open.
    What can we say, but thank you everyone. Society needs you.

    • We readers are aghast at the depth of corruption in SA, but so grateful to our band of intrepid and ethical journalists who continue to delve bravely into dark corners to share these details and the truth. Wonder if we couldn’t form a new opposition party? The TMP (The Maverick Party) composed of journalists and supporters.

  • Branko, you and your team are congratulated! You have been doing an outstanding job on our behalf – we being the people who love this country and would like to see it run properly for everyone’s benefit. We work and build and pay our taxes, but we in essence do not have a platform to voice our concerns. Yes, there are opposition parties, and some try their best, but with the ANC’s power their influence is limited. Publications like DM empower us to have some influence to let the light overcome the darkness. Keep on shining it!

  • Dear Branco, yes it is critically important that the rot is identified and people made aware of what is really going on. However, of equal importance, if not more so, is to focus on how to correct things, and I am not only hoping for serious punishment of the perpetrators, but suggest to also focus on how to rebuild this country. SA is a country of immense potential and goodwill. By concentrating mainly on the wrongs, we undermine the will of those you are engaging in building a better SA. Please dedicate part of the DM to these efforts. Create a Citizens Forum, where the those engaged “showcase” their efforts, encourage others to participate and collectively create a country that we can proudly hand over to our children/grandchildren. Only through putting our collective shoulders to the wheel can the cart called SA be pushed out of the morass it is stuck in.

  • Branko, it goes without saying that few of you readership trust any other brand. But we need the others if only to gauge the standard to which gutter press sinks. The hype last week about the Nkhandla crooks tea party sickened me. Another sordid manipulation of the gullible public. Maybe JZ will do us all a favour, won’t go to Zondo and will rot in jail for the rest of his life.

  • You guys are heroes and I will be grateful for the light you have shone into dark places in South Africa. However I wonder if boldness is waning. Your coronavirus coverage has been textbook MSM fearmongering. Credible alternative views that have pointed out the staggering costs and failure of lockdowns have been silenced. Disappointing.

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