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KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga Regional Winners of 2021 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards Announced

The quality of entries at this year’s Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards (VJOY) has instilled “confidence in the future of journalism in South Africa” and has set a new benchmark for excellence in South African journalism.

This was the unanimous agreement by the competition’s judging panel at the announcement of the regional winners of the 2021 Vodacom Journalist of the Year (VJOY) awards for KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.

The virtual awards announcement was the culmination of a judging process which reviewed more than 1 300 entries received nationally across 12 categories. This year’s theme for the Awards is “Resilience”. Despite many challenges, and sometimes at significant personal cost, South African journalists across the country have persevered to bring high-quality journalism to the public through various mediums.

Takalani Netshitenzhe, Vodacom South Africa Chief Officer for External Affairs says: “For two decades, the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards have recognised many of the leading lights of South African journalism, those who have contributed to upholding democracy and protecting the right of freedom of expression, so vitally important in our society. The VJOYs give us an opportunity to reflect on the news headlines of the past year and applaud the stellar work produced by our country’s media. This competition celebrates the profession and its integral part in our daily lives. I would also like to extend my personal congratulations to all regional award winners and my heartfelt thanks to our hardworking panel of judges who make the VJOYs possible.”

This year’s VJOY judging panel consists of convener Ryland Fisher and judges Jermaine Craig, Arthur Goldstuck, Patricia McCracken, Mapi Mhlangu, Gilbert Motsaathebe, Collin Nxumalo, Jovial Rantao, Robin Sewlal, Phindile Xaba and Obed Zilwa.

Convener of the judging panel, Ryland Fisher says: The Vodacom Journalist of the Year awards have once again produced an excellent selection of entries, which give the judges confidence in the future of journalism and the media industry in South Africa. Our journalists have displayed resilience and continue to produce work that belies the upheavals that the industry experienced in the past two years. The judges had a difficult time to decide on winners at a regional and national level, because of the high quality, which is always a good problem to have. Congratulations to all the regional winners and good luck with the nationals.”

The regional winners, who each won R5 000 are as follows:

· Investigative – Sunday Times, Zimasa Matiwane

·Opinion – Sunday Times Daily, Nivashni Nair

· Features – eNCA, Dasen Thathiah, Kwazi Mlanduli, Francois Grobler, Nkanyiso Mdlalose and Susanna Holmes

· Lifestyle – eNCA, Dasen Thathiah, Nkanyiso Mdlalose, Susanna Holmes, Joe Komane and Sandile Makhubela

· Sport – New Frame, Greg Ardé

· Financial and Economics – Business Report, Given Majola

· Politics – Independent Online, Sihle Mavuso

·  Sustainability – Joint regional winners from Sunday Times, Orrin Singh, Paige Muller Matthew Savides and Sandile Ndlovu; and from Roving Reporters & Ground Up, Fred Kockott, Laura du Toit and Matthew Hattingh

·  Live reporting/ breaking news – eNCA, Dasen Thathiah, Mcebisi Sithole and Nkanyiso Mdlalose

 · Young Journalist of the Year Award – The Witness, Moeketsi Mamane

·  Photography – Sunday Times/TimesLive, Sandile Ndlovu

·       Innovation in journalism – SABC TV, Jayed-Leigh Paulse & Thulani Ngcobo

The regional award-winning journalists will compete for national honours against their peers in other provinces at the national awards ceremony on Thursday, 25 November 2021.

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