29 March 2017
Suzanne Venter, a senior journalist at Rapport, has won the 2016 Taco Kuiper Award for Investigative Journalism for her investigation into the Life Esidimeni tragedy. Her report on how more than 94 psychiatric patients died after being moved to unregistered facilities began with a tip-off on Facebook and has become the subject of an official inquiry by the health ombudsman.
“For me the biggest reward will forever be that I achieved my goal,” Suzanne says. “I wanted to help those poor people and expose the culprits who’d treated them so badly. No one has the right to determine the worth of another human being’s life.”
Rapport editor Waldimar Pelser says he and the Rapport editorial team believed in the importance of the Esidimeni story long before it became a national scandal. “Suzanne persisted in asking the tough questions even as the Gauteng health MEC, Qedani Mahlangu, offered repeated and well-publicised denials of any patient deaths,” he says.
“We’re proud to have made a contribution to pushing the plight of psychiatric patients onto the national agenda and immensely proud that this is the second consecutive year that a Rapport journalist has been honoured with South Africa’s foremost award for investigative journalism.”
It’s also the fourth time a Media24 journalist has won this prestigious award since its launch 11 years ago.
Suzanne takes home R200 000 in prize money.