7 investigative stories that rocked SA

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David Mabuza and his team would also be responsible for the national communication strategy to counter misinformation and encourage an uptake of the vaccines.. Picture: Masi Losi /Gallo Images / Sunday Times
David Mabuza and his team would also be responsible for the national communication strategy to counter misinformation and encourage an uptake of the vaccines.. Picture: Masi Losi /Gallo Images / Sunday Times

News organisations don’t just report on the world. They can change it too. News24's investigative journalists understand this. Their work over the past few years have blown the lid off massive corruption, exposed government failures and shone a light on injustice. The following seven stories are examples of News24 journalism that rocked South Africa. 

GEMS rocked by corruption investigation involving R300 million

In February, News24 exclusively revealed allegations of tender rigging, fraud, maladministration and corruption totalling more than R300 million at the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS).

The accusations of graft at GEMS are detailed in a series of 10 explosive forensic reports which show that over a period of five years the scheme had appointed and paid more than R300 million to companies in which some of its executives had direct financial interests.

South Africans expressed concerns that the planned National Health Insurance (NHI) fund will crash under the weight of corruption, like many other state-owned entities, if GEMS were to administer it. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said afterwards there were no plans for GEMS to administer the NHI fund.

A cancelled meeting, delays and secrecy: Inside SA's efforts to procure Covid-19 vaccine doses

News24 has been at the forefront of reporting on the government's efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 and secure vaccines for citizens.

Despite claiming to have been in talks with pharmaceutical companies over the procurement of vaccines for "six months" government only started confirming deals with manufacturers in January – in the face of a groundswell of criticism.

News24's analysis shows that instead of providing clear answers, government has obfuscated by providing reassurances with no detail and have either ignored questions seeking clarity or have spoken in vague, contradictory and potentially misleading terms. As a result, and after missing payment deadlines, repeated refusals to provide detail or clarity over discussions with Covid-19 vaccine makers, South Africa only received its first batch of vaccines at the end of January.

Inside David Mabuza’s diary: ANC activities, blocked out days take up big chunks of DP’s time

In August 2020, News24 obtained Mabuza's official diary through filing a Promotion of Access to Information Act request for the period between March 2018 and December 2019, providing an overview of the deputy president's schedule for the first 671 days he has been in office.

An estimated one third of deputy president David Mabuza's first two years in office was unaccounted for or spent on ANC activities, official records show.

If weekend days, of which Mabuza spent more time on ANC activities than official duties, are included in time unaccounted for, 50% of Mabuza's time was spent on private endeavours.

His office challenged this analysis, saying Mabuza spent much of his time "away from the glare of the media" and working on preparing for meetings or Parliamentary duties.

The Eskom Files | Power utility’s R178 000 000 000 dodgy tender tsunami

On 3 May, News24 published the first exclusive stories to come from the Eskom Files, a leaked trove of documents, revealing dodgy contracts worth more than R178 billion being probed by law firm Bowmans and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).

The contracts, many of them linked to the construction of the multibillion-rand Kusile Power Station in Mpumalanga, range from wastewater plants and accommodation to coal haulage and even purchasing milk and toilet paper at enormously inflated prices. At Kusile alone, corruption, theft and fraud, coupled with poor management and inadequate planning, have seen the construction costs of the facility balloon to R161 billion from the initial estimated cost of R78 billion.

Targeting AGU Team C | How Zane Kilian tracked anti-gang cop Charl Kinnear and his team 

Through well-placed sources, News24 obtained a trove of ping data believed to be linked to former rugby player Zane Kilian, showing how he tracked Lieutenant Colonel Charl Kinnear – a key member of the police’s Anti-Gang Unit – right up until he was murdered outside his home in Cape Town.

The investigation, published in December 2020, revealed how Kinnear's cellphone was "pinged" more than 2 400 times to allegedly relay his location to his murderers. Killian has since been charged as an accessory to Kinnear's murder.

ANC runs 'kickback' scheme among ambassadors and diplomats, senior officials tell Zondo

In October 2020, the ANC was rocked by explosive allegations it was soliciting kickbacks from South Africans appointed to diplomatic and ambassadorial positions overseas.

The allegations were contained in a hard-hitting letter by senior bureaucrats at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation requesting the judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture to probe claims, among others, that the appointment of career diplomats and ambassadors is tainted with corruption and patronage.

In the letter, two departmental officials write that the kickbacks were paid into the ANC's account held at Nedbank via debit orders which diplomats were expected to sign upon appointment.

Exodus | Uncovering sexual crimes and missing millions at a KZN 'cult'

After an investigation of seven months, News24 revealed gross violations of human rights, turning a blind eye to sexual abuse, and money laundering spanning four decades at KwaSizabantu (KSB), one of the biggest missions in Africa started by German preacher Erlo Stegen in 1970 at Kranskop, northern KwaZulu-Natal.

News24's exposé was based on six sworn affidavits by women who claimed they were sexually abused. The Hawks also confirmed an ongoing investigation into allegations of money laundering of up to R150 million.

The KSB leadership accused News24 of running a "smear campaign" and appointed an independent panel of two people, who conducted interviews with stakeholders. The panel exonerated the mission. The investigation led to nationwide boycott of KSB's aQuellé water brand.

If you believe in News24's mission and the impact of our journalism in South Africa, please consider supporting our work and becoming a subscriber here.

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