Articles

One Night in Snake Park

In 2015, a wave of xenophobic attacks spread across South Africa. That year, the spark was the death of a 14-year-old named Siphiwe Mahori, who was shot dead by a Somali shopkeeper in Johannesburg. This is the autopsy of a young boy’s death, unravelling how the media, the police, the justice system, the community, the township economy, and politicians — from the local councilor all the way up to the office of the president — fuel the violence which continues to be meted out on foreigners, even in the midst of the pandemic.

The Funny Thing About Race in South Africa

It’s 1948 and it’s the first day of apartheid in South Africa. A jazzy tune is playing, the sun is shining and some white people are lying on blankets on a grassy embankment. A familiar sign pops up: “Whites Only.” The camera pans onto a young black man who is taking his place on the lawn as a security officer approaches.

How Perugia (Almost) Broke My Heart

It started off at the session on education. Last week, in a corner room just off the Piazza IV Novembre, in the charming medieval town of Perugia, Italy, Alice Ross, a young journalist working for Greenpeace UK’s Unearthed bemoaned the cost of her fancy investigative journalism degree at City, University of London. The total for her year-long course? A whopping 9,000 pounds (more than $11,500). Ross likened it to a pay-to-play scheme that landed her a plum job, but effectively keeps out those who can’t afford to pony up thousands or puts them in a not-so-privileged place on the fringes of the industry.

Watch Your Language

Everyone in the room thought they got the joke. When Trevor Noah announced Black Panther for Best Picture at the 2019 Oscars, a wave of laughter washed over the crowd as he talked about growing up in the fictional country of Wakanda.

In South Africa, Anger in a Hashtag

Early one morning last year a handful of students gathered to block the main entrance to the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg to protest the university’s proposed 10 percent tuition fee hike.

White Noise, Damn Lies, Deep Fakes and What Really Scares Craig Silverman

Craig Silverman, now the Toronto-based media editor for BuzzFeed News, has been digging into unhappy facts for years. But back in 2015, he came out with a report which would foretell the misinformation tsunami that would soon arrive. Published by the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, “Lies, Damn Lies and Viral Content: How News Websites Spread (and Debunk) Online Rumors, Unverified Claims and Misinformation” pretty much speaks for itself.

Peddling the American Dream

THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT doing 140km/h on a Jo’burg highway at 4:30pm on a weekday with no car in sight — except for the thousands of poor suckers who aren’t going anywhere, backed up and blocked from every onramp — that screams: hanging out with Michelle Obama is very, very cool.

The Broadcaster Has No Clothes

WHEN THE BILLBOARDS WENT UP AT OR TAMBO, Durban, and Cape Town International Airports at the end of March, they marked the first glimpse of what’s coming soon to a TV near you.

Fear and Loathing at South Africa’s Public Broadcaster

Sometimes the most acute afflictions present in the simplest forms – like the rusted machine that once spit out parking tickets for visitors to the hulking concrete and steel towers of the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s Johannesburg studios, or the escalators meant to glide employees from the ground floor to the lobby.

Slumming with the Sun

SO YOU DON’T LIKE NASTY TABLOIDS THAT DEBASE OUR SOCIETY with preposterous stories of tokoloshes and gory muthi murders infused with a solid dose of xenophobia, racism and sexism? Well, the Daily Sun isn’t talking to you. Who it is talking to is the people, and the people have spoken. And four million of them are reading Deon du Plessis’s rock ’n’ roll newspaper every single day.

SADC Tribunal goes on trial

IN NOVEMBER OF 2008, BEN FREETH and a motley crew of white Zimbabwean farmers, who took their government to the Southern African Development Community Tribunal in Windhoek in an effort to win back their land, wept in open court when they heard the judgment passed down.

BMW Buyer, You’re On Your Own

When Tanya Pampalone was told her car’s warranty was up five months before it was due, she had a hard time finding out why. That’s when she delved into the world of dodgy motor industry practices where it’s almost impossible to get a straight answer. Unless you’re willing to ask a lot of questions — and put up a serious fight.

The Full Ponte

The ride up is bumpy. At every floor, the cramped elevator stops and bounces, as if it were hanging from a delicate bungee at the end of its rope. It’s enough to make you queasy – at least on your first ride. We’re headed for the 51st floor at One Lily Avenue in Berea. We’re going to the top, where the penthouses form a full circle in this 173-metre tower crowned with the blue Vodacom sign. The building’s protective silhouette hovers over Gauteng with an almost motherly hold, the way she proudly dominates this land, though most will tell you – her phallic form clearly supporting their claims – that Ponte is definitely a man. I’m not so sure.

In a Dainfern State of Mind

THERE ARE TWO WAYS TO ENTER DAINFERN. One is through the Broadacres gate. It looks much the same as the William Nicol entrance — both have grand white wooden facades with grey roofing and boomed lanes for “visitors” and “residents” — but the Broadacres gate is a more fitting way to arrive.

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