Sunday Times stripped of journalism award for Cato Manor 'death squad' reporting

accreditation
Mzilikazi wa Afrika and Stephan Hofstatter . (File)
Mzilikazi wa Afrika and Stephan Hofstatter . (File)

Conveners of the prestigious Taco Kuiper Award for Investigative Journalism have withdrawn awards given to three Sunday Times journalists for their Cato Manor killings reports due to elements of the story being called into question.

In 2011, the paper ran a front page story titled "Shoot to Kill" which was authored by journalists Stephan Hoffstatter, Mzilikazi wa Africa and Rob Rose. The article claimed to have lifted the lid on "killings committed by an elite police unit". The three were given the Taco Kuiper Award for Investigative Journalism runner-up award in 2012.

It was former regional head of the Hawks General Johan Booysen who raised the alarm on aspects of the story.

READ: Mzilikazi wa Afrika, Stephan Hofstatter part ways with Sunday Times

According to convener Anton Harber, after conducting its own investigation, the awards body will withdraw the runner-up award and has asked that the journalists return it.

"While there was a legitimate story around the Cato Manor unit – the reporting, writing and editing was shoddy and amateurish, leading to serious errors and gaps in the report," said Harber.

"With the information that has come to light, it is clear that this work did not merit the recognition of the award."

Entrants to be screened

Harber said the award was given "in good faith, based on the information before us at the time".

In October, Sunday Times editor Bongani Siqoko issued an apology on the reporting of the Cator Manor killings as more questions were raised on aspects of the story. 

"We committed mistakes and allowed ourselves to be manipulated by those with ulterior motives.

"For that, we failed you. We failed SA. We deeply regret it," said Siqoko at the time. 

The awards body has said it had taken extra measures this year to ensure it does not repeat the mistake. 

"We have this year subjected entries to detailed screening before our judging process, putting questions to entrants where there was a lack of clarity about any aspect of the story or reporting on it.

"We will be vigilant in ensuring integrity of the award and ensuring that we recognise and encourage the highest quality of investigative reporting in the public interest," added Harber.

The editor could not be immediately reached for comment at the time this story was published.  

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
After the opening weekend of URC action, what did you make of the South African struggles?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
It exposed the quality of South African rugby...
41% - 1074 votes
There were positives to take
7% - 181 votes
We shouldn't read too much into one weekend
17% - 441 votes
It will take the SA sides time to adjust to the new competition
35% - 894 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
15.12
-1.1%
Rand - Pound
20.46
+0.2%
Rand - Euro
17.66
-1.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.94
-0.4%
Rand - Yen
0.14
-0.6%
Gold
1,733.11
-1.0%
Silver
22.44
-0.9%
Palladium
1,880.14
-4.5%
Platinum
966.89
-1.7%
Brent-ruolie
79.53
+1.8%
Top 40
57,462
-0.6%
All Share
63,784
-0.6%
Resource 10
56,880
-1.5%
Industrial 25
82,305
-0.7%
Financial 15
14,437
+1.3%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE