Statement from the judging panel of the Taco Kuiper Award for Investigative Journalism – March 2019
In 2012, we gave the runner-up prize in the Taco Kuiper Award for Investigative Journalism to the three journalists of the Sunday Times responsible for the Cato Manor Shoot to Kill story, Mzilikazi wa Africa, Stephan Hoffstatter and Rob Rose (Sunday Times, 11 December 2011). We made this decision in good faith, based on the information before us at the time.
Since then, elements of the story have been disputed, leading us to reconsider that decision.
In October 2017, we received a letter from General Johan Booysen, former regional head of the Hawks and a subject of the story, asking us to reopen our deliberations on the award. The same week, and before we could respond, the Sunday Times published a retraction of and apology for the Cato Manor article and two others. “We committed mistakes and allowed ourselves to be manipulated by those with ulterior motives,” the current editor Bongani Siqoko wrote. He said the newspaper would return prizes won for these stories.
Siqoko wrote to us to “tender to return the Award”. However, the prize went to the individual journalists involved, rather than the newspaper. Some of these individuals, and the then-editor, Ray Hartley, criticised the decision to withdraw the story, leaving its status in dispute.
We have now conducted our own investigation. We have studied the reports and relevant documentation and interviewed most of the individuals involved.