Henley Africa MBA student Pauli van Wyk has been named South African Journalist of the Year at the 2020 Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalist of the Year awards. The accolade was one of a hat-trick of awards she received at the annual ceremony, held virtually on Thursday 15 October this year because of the COVID 19 crisis.
She also won story of the year as well as the category she had entered: Investigative journalism, for a raft of work entitled “cruising nicely on VBS money” and “The elements of a Bank Heist” all of which focussed on the plundering of Limpopo’s VBS Bank by politicians.
Van Wyk who received the inaugural Sol Plaatje Media scholarship last year to study for her MBA degree at Henley Business School Africa, said she was deeply humbled by the accolades.
“It is an honour and a privilege to be named among the best of our country’s exceptional journalists.” The VBS saga had been a challenging story to tell, she said. “It required technical analysis and a difficult investigation to conclude and I am proud that I was able to do it and in the way I did it.”
Henley Africa dean and director Jon Foster-Pedley said the school was delighted by Van Wyk’s win. “The Standard Bank Sikuvile awards recognise, encourage and strengthen the kind of journalistic excellence that we need to eradicate the twin evils of corruption and corporate collusion that ultimately metastasised into state capture.
“When we created the Sol Plaatje scholarship we did it to honour one of South African journalism’s greatest practitioners by giving the best of today’s generation a once in a lifetime opportunity to step out of the newsroom and into the classroom to ultimately emerge with the tools they need to create a sustainable economic model for this vitally important industry.”
There has never been a more opportune time, said Foster-Pedley, because the media had already been wrestling with its own existential crisis precipitated by the advent of the fourth industrial revolution, when COVID 19 hit. The lockdown had sounded the death knell for many legacy outlets and seriously hurting others as audiences and revenues vanished, met by brutal budget cuts and more retrenchments.
“Yet, ironically, we’ve never needed great journalism more than we do now,’ he says, “we’re caught in an info-demic; awash in fake news and fake science, held hostage by opportunists and populists. Pauli was an obvious choice to be our inaugural winner of this scholarship. Her trifecta of awards this week only underscores how right our selection panel was. We look forward to the day when she can add a Henley executive MBA to her already impressive CV.”
Henley Africa offers the widest range and biggest number of scholarships by any business school in Africa. The scholarships are designed to honour South African icons from Desmond Tutu to Johnny Clegg allowing Henley Africa to give back and re-invest in the community, through ground breaking courses and programmes that build the leaders who build the businesses who build Africa.