WRITING TRUTH POWER
Fairlady|November/December 2021
We pay tribute to eight of the many women journalists out there right now putting themselves on the line for all of us.

Pauli vanWyk

INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST AT SCORPIO, DAILY MAVERICK

Why we think she’s brilliant: For her story on the SARS ‘rogue unit’, for tracing the money from the VBS Mutual Bank fraud to the EFF, and for pursuing dubious dealings at Insure Group Managers.

The back story: Pauli first started investigating the SARS state capture story in 2014. To recap: Johann van Loggerenberg was head of the hugely successful High-Risk Investigations Unit at SARS, and he was known to have sufficient evidence on illicit cigarette smuggling to turn the industry on its head. The companies implicated ranged from international players like British American Tobacco (BAT) and Phillip Morris, to smaller, seemingly independent local companies like Carnilinx and Gold Leaf. But the rogue unit narrative, in which the State Security Agency (SSA) had a hand, was a tale spun to discredit the SARS investigation and to pave the way for new SARS commissioner Tom Moyane to disband its internal and external investigations units, effectively removing the risk of any light being shone on wrongdoers.

Pauli’s investigation led to an apology and retraction from the Sunday Times, and to KPMG withdrawing its own report. Her story reads like a spy novel, complete with a triple agent laying a honeytrap (Belinda Walters, who worked for the SSA, BAT and Carnilinx) and a wronged lover (Van Loggerenberg).

This is possibly what led Pauli to another extraordinary investigation: the R2.7 billion VBS bank heist, where poor people and pensioners were defrauded of their life savings. She obtained bank statements showing that the EFF’s Shivambu brothers, Brian and Floyd, as well as Julius Malema, benefited from the heist through Brian Shivambu’s company Sgameka Projects.

What drives her: Pauli says she couldn’t shake the image of the VBS investors sleeping out in the cold, waiting for word of their hard-earned savings. She imagined how she’d have felt if her mother had been among them. Her rocks, she says, are her husband as well as the Daily Maverick editor-in-chief, Branco Brkic, who make it possible for her to do her job.

Caryn Dolley

INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST AT DAILY MAVERICK

'Breaking news needs to be treated with a huge dose of salt. I think more and more we are realising how huge a monster state capture is.'

Why we think she’s brilliant: For her brave and critical investigations into gangsterism in the Western Cape and across South Africa, despite several death threats and warnings that she was being ‘watched’. For documenting and elucidating her findings in The Enforcers: Inside Cape Town’s Deadly Nightclub Battles, and her latest book, To the Wolves: How Traitor Cops Crafted South Africa’s Underworld. She strongly feels that as citizens we need to understand the depth and reach of state capture.

Caryn is perhaps especially brave because many of the people she writes about have no fear of the rule of law, nor any need to appear to be doing the right thing, unlike politicians. Caryn is up against not only gangsters but also rogue SAPS officers, drug lords, and a long history of corruption and graft in public office.

To the Wolves (which specifically refers to people living in gangster-ridden communities) looks at gangsterism and organised crime through the lens of the SAPS and reveals the deep dysfunction that exists in the Force – or, as she calls it, ‘The Disappearing Blue Line’. She attributes this mainly, but not exclusively, to the way people from all sides of the political spectrum were absorbed into the system, old prejudices intact but meant to get along. All this is further complicated by alleged double and triple agents like Cyril Beeka, purported in turn to be an apartheid spy, an MK operative and a gun runner. Caryn refers to him as ‘a political mirage’, and her books are full of similar people who are simply following the money.

What drives her: ‘I have a little more of a foundation in terms of an understanding of what’s happening, and when something happens I can now pin it to something that happened maybe 10 years ago. What would I be doing as a journalist if I did not do that? Wouldn’t it be like selling out?’

Barbara Maregele

DEPUTY EDITOR AT GROUNDUP

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