Their story was an investigation into hygiene and safety risks in school hostels
It ran as a series in a South African newspaper
The award was presented at a ceremony in Cape Town Saturday
An investigation into appalling conditions in school hostels has won two South African journalists the top prize at the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards.
Msindisi Fengu and Yandisa Monakali shared the top honor of CNN MultiChoice African Journalist of the Year for their series “School hostels of shame,” which appeared in South African newspaper Daily Dispatch.
The series investigated appalling conditions experienced by thousands of pupils in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, uncovering hygiene and safety risks in school hostels and lifting the lid on corruption within the education department.
Their winning entry was chosen from 1,387 submissions from 42 nations across the continent. It also won the Print General News Award.
“It’s a huge honor to win,” the pair said in a statement. “It means all the work we put in has been rewarded. It always feel good to be recognized by your fellow journalists. We’ll keep pushing this agenda.”
Ferial Haffajee, chair of the judging panel, said the top prize was tightly contested. “But we felt that ‘Hostels of shame’ had resonance across the continent. We live in an era of fast everything, so fast journalism is a big part of it. To find a piece of work where people took their weekends, took months to do it and told the story over some length is a real joy.”
The award carried a substantial cash prize, plus a visit to CNN Center in Atlanta to attend the three-week CNN Journalism Fellowship. All finalists received a cash prize, with category winners receiving a laptop and printer as well.
Fengu and Monakali were among 27 finalists from 11 countries who attended the Awards ceremony at the Cape Town International Convention Center Saturday as the culmination of a four day program of workshops, media forums, networking, and sightseeing.
Parisa Khosravi, senior vice president, global relations for CNN Worldwide, said the awards highlighted the depth and strength of journalism in Africa.
“These men and women have proven that top-notch journalism is alive and prospering, and Africa will have its stories told to the world.”
Nico Meyer, CEO of MultiChoice Africa, said journalists played a vital role in the development of African media.
“Without your hard work and perseverance, the development of the media across Africa would not be possible.”
Khosravi presented the top award with Collins Khumalo, CEO of MultiChoice South Africa.
The awards were established in 1995 to encourage, promote and recognize excellence in African journalism.