The entire South African journalism body is the recipient of this year’s coveted Nat Nakasa Award, awarded each year for courageous journalism, the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) announced on Saturday, August 22.
This announcement was made with the airing of the forum’s documentary that celebrates the vital work South African journalists are doing in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Newly elected SANEF chairperson Sbu Ngalwa said: “To every other journalist in this country who are continuing to brave danger, heading out there every day to tell the story of South Africa.
“We say congratulations to all of you. We are proud of you. It may be tough. It is difficult. We have suffered some losses, but this is the time for us to be even stronger and to push forward and ensuring that we tell the story of South Africa.”
When South Africa went into total shutdown in late March, journalists were declared essential workers, reporting from the frontlines on a topic also novel to them.
“I'm a political reporter, usually chasing politicians [...]. But then COVID came and I had to put on a hat that I never knew I had - a health reporter's hat. And I have been running with COVID since we reported one of our few first cases,” said Kgothatso Madisa from the Sowetan.
Nat Nakasa was a courageous South African journalist and writer in apartheid South Africa who died exiled in the United States.
“We remember our not so distant apartheid past where journalists were jailed for doing their work and exposing the atrocities and evilness of the apartheid system,” Mahlatse Mahlase, SANEF’s former chairperson and new secretary general said.
Katy Katopodis, SANEF’s outgoing deputy chair and new Gauteng convenor said journalism is a crucial part of any society.
“There's no more important time than now in South Africa for us to be telling really important stories and for us to be telling the story of South Africa,” said.
Read about SANEF’s new leadership here