22 March 2016
Media24 is proud to announce that Rapport investigative reporter Pieter-Louis Myburgh was awarded the 2016 Taco Kuiper Award for Investigative Journalism on 18 March.
The award recognises outstanding examples of journalism that reveal untold stories, hold the powerful to account and question those in public life.
Pieter-Louis doggedly pursued and proved allegations of impropriety surrounding Prasa’s acquisition of Afro4000 locomotives from a South African shelf company and Spanish train giant. Rapport’s months-long investigation showed the engines, bought at a cost of R600 million, were too tall for the local rail infrastructure and Prasa’s own engineers warned the new diesel locomotives could come so close to overhead power lines in certain parts of the country they could pose a significant safety hazard.
Despite vicious attacks by Prasa’s then-CEO, Lucky Montana, who accused Rapport of a malicious and even racist campaign, and threw a brick at Pieter-Louis, he stuck to his guns and unearthed layer upon layer of dirt. Montana was fired on 16 July last year.
“Our investigation shone light into a corner powerful people hoped would remain dark,” Rapport editor Waldimar Pelser says. “We’re proud of Pieter-Louis, who showed tenacity and courage. I believe it’s crucial that we continue to invest in investigative journalism. Bottom-line pressures make this more difficult, but decaying public administration and rising corruption, also in the private sphere, make continued investigations ever more essential.”
“It’s a wonderful privilege to be the recipient of such a coveted award,” Pieter-Louis says. “Investigative journalism plays a vitally important role in South Africa and such recognition, albeit not the purpose of our pursuit of these stories, serves as great inspiration to continue our work.”
According to the Taco Kuiper judges, Pieter-Louis’ reporting was “classic investigative work: careful, patient probing to find supporting evidence for an abuse of public moneys, backed up with solid documentation, and powerfully presented to ensure it had impact.”