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South African media racist?

1 November 2008

Back in March the South African media reported on the arrest of several people in connection with a series of murders at Mzamba in the Eastern Cape.

There were reports of protests outside the court, of the horror of members of the public interviewed by the media, but until now I have not been able to find any reports of the evidence, verdict and sentence of the accused.

So what has happened to them?

Were they remanded in custody? Granted bail? Tried? Convicted? Discharged? Released?

As I remarked in an earlier blog post (Witchcraft-related crimes), the South African media never seem to follow up on these stories.

Serial killings on the other side of the world, such as those by Frederick West in the UK, are reported in detail, even in South African newspapers — the investigation, the trial, the verdict and the sentence.

But when the victims are black, even when there are 18 of them, the story doesn’t seem to be sufficiently newsworthy to follow up. Someone once said that a British newspaper issued guidance to reporters on newsworthiness — one British death was as newsworthy as 16 African deaths. Such a rule may be OK for newspapers in Britain, but when it is applied by South African newspapers, it is just racist.

So what happened?

Did the evidence show that the accused were guilty? Were the murders muti-related, or was that just gossip spread around outside the court? Or are they still awaiting trial? What happened? Where is the follow-up?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Gus Gosling permalink
    25 November 2008 12:24 pm


    An update for you. The case has been postponed till July next year (according to a news report yesterday).

    I don’t see racism here; there was really little to report. The total absence of reporting may also have been an attempt to prevent inflaming an already tense situation — one young women was lynched by a mob on suspicion that she took part in the murders.

  2. 25 November 2008 2:48 pm

    Thanks for the update, Gus.

    I hope it is reported when it does come to court.

  3. 26 November 2008 3:40 am


    Do you have a reference for the news report? I wasn’t able to find it on Google news.

  4. Gus Gosling permalink
    26 November 2008 7:01 am


    No I don’t: it was a TV report relayed from a friend in Port Edward — where rumours about the case abound.

    I think you may have missed an episode of `Special Assignment’ (June?) devoted to this and other recent `muti murders’. Thanks to a redesign of the SABC site the script archive has disappeared, but it’s still available in the Google cache if you look.

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