DURBAN – Apartheid's legacy is still affecting South Africa and the local media, a discussion held on the sidelines of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-Ifra) conference being held in Durban heard on Wednesday. The conference brings together journalists and media professionals from around the globe.
The discussion, hosted by the Press Club of South Africa focused around author Hennie van Vuuren’s book “Apartheid Guns and Money”, an exposé on the economic crimes of the apartheid regime.
Through the use of released secret documents, Van Vuuren details how the then government defended the system through the use of people like journalists, spies and bankers.
Van Vuuren and a small group of people worked on the book for five years. “It is a story about power,” he said.
Van Vuuren said a large amount of information on apartheid was available, even though the apartheid government had destroyed about 44 tons worth of documents. He said he was frustrated that South Africans were not telling more of these types of stories, including that media group Naspers had donated money to the National Party and was the “attack dog” of the National Party.
Dr Iqbal Surve, executive chairman of Sekunjalo, the owner of Independent Newspapers, said the book was well- researched and told the truth. “It is one of the seminal books in South African history.”
Surve said the dominant media groups in the country were completely embedded in the apartheid regime. The challenge lay in trying to tell the truth while being faced by institutions that come from the apartheid era.
Surve said it should be noted that the apartheid regime stole R500 billion from South Africa, money that could have been used for the development of the country.
Investigative journalist Piet Rampedi said journalists were still contending with a culture of institutionalised racism in the newsroom.
"In the newsroom you can see that black journalists are being discriminated against.The media has racialised crime and corruption… They presume black people are prone to corruption,” he said.
Rampedi said the media should acknowledge its apartheid past, as this would help the industry to improve.
Van Vuuren said the book was also a story about the private funding of political parties and how there is no law regulating this until today.