For the past 22 years, News24 has been a must-read for many South Africans who have wanted to stay abreast of the latest developments in the country. The publication has been a leader in breaking news, investigative reportage and trusted business and sports journalism. We look back at some of the big stories of the past couple of years and how News24 covered it.
The Guptas had been on South Africans’ radars for years, in particular after commandeering the Waterkloof air force base for a family wedding in 2013. But the email cache, better known as the "Gupta Leaks", confirmed for many just how deep their tendrils reached, snagging lucrative tenders from departments across government and even doling out ministerial appointments. News24 teamed up with the Daily Maverick and amaBhungane to comb through the leaked emails to reveal the many nefarious dealings of the Guptas with then president Jacob Zuma and his cronies. The leaks also implicated global heavyweights KPMG and McKinsey in the Guptas' affairs, and helped to force out of business the British PR firm Bell Pottinger - which exploited racial tensions to spin scrutiny away from the Guptas.
Before the world had heard of Angelo Agrizzi and Bosasa, News24 journalist Kyle Cowan exposed the criminal dealings of this company. In a News24 exclusive, Cowan revealed how the facility management company treated a long list of high-profile ministers and government functionaries to high-tech security systems for their homes. News24's investigations also found that Bosasa's now late former CEO Gavin Watson donated R500 000 to President Cyril Ramaphosa's ANC presidential campaign. The donation became the focus of a Public Protector's investigation and subsequent court proceedings.
Read some of Cowan's stories here:
Dubai: The Guptas' city of shells
As the rabbit hole around the Gupta Leaks revelations got deeper News24 investigative journalists Pieter-Louis Myburgh and Angelique Serrao travelled to Dubai in October 2017 to see what the Guptas' new base was like. They hoped to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanics of their network of shell companies, through which money from, among other places, the Free State diary project had also been washed. What they found were non-existent plots, empty office buildings and confused employees where thriving businesses were supposed to be.
During the course of reporting on a number of crimes and gang-related activity unfolding in the Western Cape and beyond, it became apparent it was all connected and resulted from an ongoing battle for the control of the nightclub security industry. Investigative reporter Caryn Dolley had been covering Cape Town's underworld for years and discovered that the nightclub scene spiralled further into a dark world of drugs, arms and ammunition and that at the centre of the turf war was Nafiz Modack, the latest kingpin to have seized control of the industry. Modack was often in court on various charges, including extortion. Dolley carefully connected the dots, telling the story of the underworld.
Read some of Dolley's stories here:
The hotly contested battle for the leadership of the ANC in 2017 led to a showdown at the political party's national conference in Johannesburg, dubbed "The Battle of Nasrec". Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was up against former AU chair Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for presidency of the party, and by extension, the country. The two candidates represented opposing factions in the ANC, the latter put forward as a proxy for then president Jacob Zuma and his faction. News24 covered the build-up to the conference in a year of political mudslinging and smear campaigns, ultimately leading to a conference of high drama, where Ramaphosa narrowly beat Dlamini-Zuma by 179 votes.
The fall of Zuma
"I have... come to the decision to resign as the president of the republic with immediate effect." With these words ended the presidency of arguably the most controversial man in democratic South Africa's history. On Valentine's Day 2018, roughly two months after Cyril Ramaphosa was elected president of the ANC, Jacob Zuma resigned as president of the country. Ramaphosa's election over Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at Nasrec was the death blow to Zuma's hold over the party and left him with no choice but to resign, and sending him into the political wilderness. He was subsequently charged with corruption, including more than 700 counts of fraud and money laundering.
Read the breaking news story on Zuma's resignation.
Read Mpumelelo Mkhabela's piece on the Zuma era: Mistake of the Nation | The lost decade of Zuma rule
2019 Rugby World Cup
The road to the Springboks' third Rugby World Cup victory against England in Yokohama, Japan was not without drama. From injuries ruling out key players, to the controversy off the field with Eben Etzebeth's fracas in Langebaan, to controversial selections, Sport24 covered the tournament from every angle, with live updates, match reports, post-match interviews and analysis.
During the tournament, coach Rassie Erasmus fielded heavy criticism for the team's box kicking, set piece and defence strategies and scrumhalf Faf de Klerk was especially criticised for his kicking game. In a talk show called The Ruck, the Sport24 team unpacked the team's game plans and performance with journalists Lloyd Burnard and chief writer Rob Houwing, for all-round coverage on the tournament of the year.
When it became apparent that the death of a teenage boy in the small town of Coligny was more than just another statistic, the nation was gripped by the events unfolding in the North West farming community with deep racial divisions.
News24’s special documentary Stealing Sunflowers explored what hid beneath the fractured town with the thinly papered over cracks.
EXPOSED: Coca-Cola bankrolls sugar tax research
When the government proposed a tax of 20% on sugar sweetened drinks in 2016, the IRR, an independent think tank, released a policy paper, entitled A stealth tax, not a health tax, with a clear message: The proposed sugar tax should be abandoned. The IRR used the paper to engage with National Treasury about the economic impact a sugary tax will have in South Africa should it be introduced.
Shortly after, Fin24's Adiel Ismail revealed that the IRR's paper had been funded by Coca-Cola, which stood to lose millions if such a tax was imposed. Neither the IRR nor Coca-Cola publicly disclosed the funding source until Fin24 queried it. A week before, alleged leaked emails exposed the corporate giant's worldwide war against sugar taxes on cold drinks.
As the very real and ever-worsening problem of water restrictions in the face of drought in the Western Cape became inescapable, the once distant possibility of reaching "Day Zero", the day the city would run out of water, became a reality. Strict water restrictions were put in place across the Western Cape, with Capetonians limited to 50 litres of water usage per day.
When News24's multimedia journalist Aletta Harrison went to interview City of Cape Town deputy mayor Ian Neilson about the situation, he seemed stumped and said: "If those are all Day Zero questions, this is the wrong time to ask me." The video of the interview went viral and Neilson was lambasted for his out of touch responses to Harrison's questions. He later said he had been on the job for "just three days" when the interview about Day Zero took place.
Watch the video here.
While Cape Town still had a small window of opportunity to come up with solutions, Beaufort West, "capital of the Karoo" and "the driest town", had already run out of time. News24 travelled to the small town to speak to those affected by the drought.
Oscar winner Christian Bale's South African roots
In what was only going to be a routine talk about his acclaimed new film, Vice, Oscar winner Christian Bale opened up to Channel24's Herman Eloff about his South African family and his time in the country that had never been revealed before. "I know Cape Town well. My dad was born in Cape Town... and my grandfather was also down there, I only met him briefly towards the end of his life. I actually came down to Cape Town for that purpose of meeting him," said Bale in the wide-ranging interview.
READ THE INTERVIEW
South Africa beyond Covid-19
Trends, change and recovery: South Africa beyond Covid-19 is a compilation of 30 articles by South Africa's foremost thought leaders and captains of industry in the fields of the economy, health, science and politics. It looks forward to the South Africa we need after we've defeated Covid-19 and suggests innovative socio-economic and political reforms.
With the Covid-19 pandemic increasingly becoming an economic crisis, it became clear that South Africans needed to think long-term to what the country should look like after the virus had gone. The project sourced and distilled a range of theories and ideas to open readers' minds to the possibilities of a post-Covid world and to participate in shaping that future. It was received to high acclaim and was turned into an e-book by Jonathan Ball Publishers.