Nothing left to steal
JAILED FOR TELLING THE TRUTH
BY MZILIKAZIWA AFRIKA
ZAR246 PENGUIN (SA)
Born in Sibambayani, a village in the heart of Mpumalanga, South Africa, there was little to suggest that Mzilikazi Wa Afrika would become one of South Africa's most fearless and persistent investigative journalists--even if one of his mother's homilies was "a chick that will grow into a cock can be spotted the very day it hatches".
Political awakening came early. "Poverty was a deodorant we wore with pride," Wa Afrika recalls.
And it was a school friend who introduced the 13-year-old to Nelson Mandela, the ANC, the PAC and AZAPO, the student Soweto uprising, and Steve Biko.
He was inspired to write, initially poetry and editing an underground 'newspaper', The Voice, compiled assiduously from newspaper cuttings.
Political activism later progressed to delivering 'groceries to feed the hungry'--pistols and assault rifles that were coming in from Mozambique to supply the nascent "armed struggle" against the apartheid government.
After completing high school, a brief stint as a salesman convinced him that marketing was not really for him, so he decided to use his writing skills to try his hand at journalism.
This was in 1995, a year after the democratic dispensation, and Wa Afrika approached the Witbank News--which had no black reporters--to offer his services as a freelancer.
It did not take long for him to file front-page news--but not content with these successes, he persuaded his brother to join him so as to launch their own newspaper, Mpumalanga Mirror.
The venture failed, and Wa Africa joined the African Eye News Service (AENS) as a senior crime reporter. He began breaking big news stories that appeared across the country's major newspapers.
AENS collective exposed politicians with a rape conviction, fake...