Johannesburg – The eight SABC journalists who were fired for speaking out against the broadcaster's decision to censor coverage of protests have been honoured with the annual Guardian of Governance award for their bravery.
The awards were presented at the Sandton Convention Centre during the 20th Annual Southern Africa Internal Audit Conference on Tuesday. The Institute of Internal Auditors SA (IIA SA) is hosting the three-day conference.
The SABC fired the journalists in July 2016, after they questioned then-COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng's decision to no longer air footage of violent protests.
Seven of the eight journalists were subsequently re-hired following a high court ruling.
The SABC eight are the late Suna Venter, Foeta Krige, Krivani Pillay, Thandeka Gqubule, Busisiwe Ntuli, Lukhanyo Calata, Vuyo Mvoko, and Jacques Steenkamp.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Ntuli thanked IIA SA for recognising their efforts. She said it was with a heavy heart that they received the award, following Venter’s death.
"But we know that wherever she is, Suna is proud of her legacy, which will never be erased," Ntuli said.
“We are humbled by this recognition, but we receive it on behalf of hundreds of our colleagues at the SABC who stood with us throughout the entire period of our struggle and waged the struggle in their own ways inside the corporation."
During her dispute with the SABC, Venter, 32, was subjected to continued intimidation, victimisation, and death threats. She was shot in the face with a pellet gun after coming out of a restaurant in Linden, Johannesburg, while buying take-away food. She received surgery to remove the metal pellets from her face.
She received threatening messages on her phone, her flat was broken into several times, the brake cables of her car were cut and her car's tyres were slashed. She was kidnapped and tied to a tree in the Melville koppies while the grass around her was set alight, her family said.
She was found dead in her flat in Fairland, Johannesburg, on Thursday, June 29. She had been diagnosed with a cardiac condition known as stress cardiomyopathy or "Broken Heart Syndrome", which could cause rapid and severe heart muscle weakness. Her family believed this had been caused by trauma and prolonged periods of unnatural stress.