Full disclosure on Devi Sankaree Govender's exit from 'Carte Blanche'
Local / 26 January 2020, 10:00am / Debashine Thangevelo
Jaws dropped when news broke of Devi Sankaree Govender leaving M-Net’s award-winning and longest-running show, "Carte Blanche".
This show has been her “home” for 18 years and the decision to leave was not easy and she wrestled with her mind and her heart for a long time.
She explains, “Last year, I knew my daughter was going to move. She got that golf scholarship. My son was finishing at Grade 10. It was around the middle of the year and I thought to myself, ‘This time next year, I will be setting up for a whole different life. Look, I didn’t start off 2019 thinking I must go find myself another job. Then I started thinking, ‘Next year you are going to be presenting on Carte Blanche for 18 years’. There was something inside of me that said, it’s time.
“"Carte Blanche" is family. You don’t work somewhere for 18 years and don’t get to know each other. For me, it’s been like a child. It’s one child I had to nurture. And it was like cutting an umbilical cord. I made this decision with my head, not my heart.”
“I think my kids felt like "Carte Blanche" was a sibling in the house,” she laughs.
Over the years, she covered many hard-hitting and gut-wrenching stories. And each one has been a learning curve.
She offers, “You learn a lot, especially about television. You learn that you need to know how to put makeup on. I never equated "Carte Blanche" with me being a beauty queen. I saw it as ‘I’m a journalist and I must do journalism’. I wasn’t very good for the first couple of years. When it came to my dress-sense, too, I figured out that you need to make an effort.”
Onto the more serious stuff, she adds, “Now I’m very cool in all kinds of situations. The greatest thing "Carte Blanche" taught more was to think ahead in every single moment and situation. I’ve become an absolute planner.”
Her legacy on the show has towered during her time with them. The stories left small and big impressions on her, too. She reflects on two that stood out.
“There are so many that keep coming back,” she pointed out. “For me, I will never forget (I can’t remember the year), I did a story on these women who were raped at one of these concession tolls. There was this girl, she was very young, and I remember asking her if she was sure she wanted to do this. She said that she was because she didn’t’ want other people to do go through what she did. I still remember how she told the story.”
Govender got very teary recalling the next story.
She asked: “Do you remember the Betty Katane murder? She was murdered and no one knew what had happened to her. They were all these investigations. They finally pieced together what had happened and I went to meet her family in Queenstown because she had come here to work and support her children. I met the family when I learned that they had managed to somehow locate her body. They knew where she had been buried.”
Govender cried: “What changed me was watching that family. I met them back in Joburg. They did this entire ritual. They brought this entire coffin from home, came to this place where her body was found. I still remember how they called her spirit into her coffin to take her home. I still get emotional when I think of it. I thought these people had nothing. They lost their mother and they lost their sister. And here they are begging the spirit to come back home with them. Made me realise, in the end, that people do care and that life is too short.”
At the end of the day, Govender will always be celebrated for being a tenacious champion, fighting for the underdog. Tonight, she makes her final in-studio appearance alongside the inimitable Derek Watts. But it’s not goodbye as such, it’s till we meet again as her next chapter awaits.