Sipho Masondo and Paddy Harper scoop Taco Kuiper award

2015-03-27 17:01

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A City Press investigation revealing how members of teachers’ union Sadtu allegedly sold jobs and promotions at some of South Africa’s beleaguered public schools has won the prestigious 2015 Taco Kuiper Investigative Journalism award.

The award, in its 9th year, recognises outstanding investigative journalism by South African media.

City Press reporters Sipho Masondo and Paddy Harper won the award for their investigation How Sadtu sells its posts.

“If you’ve got R30?000 or more to donate, the teachers’ union has the job you’re looking for,” read the article, which was published in April 2014.

“A promotions-for-cash racket run by members of teachers’ union Sadtu has led to scores of illegal appointments across the country – and even a murder. City Press can reveal that plum posts, including those of principal and deputy principal, are routinely sold for upwards of R30?000 each in KwaZulu-Natal.”

City Press editor Ferial Haffajee said she was enormously proud of her team, and Masondo – who was a runner up in the awards in 2011 – expressed his gratitude.

“I am honoured that the story has received recognition. But more than anything, I am happy that such a story is receiving attention,” said Masondo.

“Nelson Mandela once said: Education is the most powerful tool which you can use to change the world. Our society needs some serious changing, and we cannot do it unless our education system is up to par. Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has appointed a team to probe if there is any substance to the allegations. I hope the team will get to the bottom of what exactly is happening with promotional positions in the department.”

Harper was equally happy about the story getting the recognition it deserves.

''I'm stoked. After three years of being placed in the competition, this is most welcome. It's also great that an original story which we initiated and followed has been recognised. This is a story which is far from over, which makes the win even more gratifying,'' he said.

Convenor of the judging panel Anton Harber said the story exposed “a national scandal of great importance to our education system, giving a detailed account and examples from all over the country of how members of the teachers’ union sell key posts in schools,” he said at the awards held in Johannesburg today.

“It is important work, brilliantly executed and carried through to the full. We can only hope that the story and this award will help the Minister of Education to take strong action.”

The runner up was Miners Shot Down, a feature-length documentary film about the fatal Marikana shootings by film-makers Rehad Desai and Anita Khanna.

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