We develop investigative journalism. We expose wrongdoing, empowering people to hold power to account.
Digging dung. Fertilising democracy.
Launched in 2010, amaBhungane (isiZulu for “the dung beetles”) is an independent, non-profit newsroom based in South Africa. We develop investigative journalism to promote free, capable media and open, accountable, just democracy.
Our activities include:
Investigations: We develop best practice in our field by doing stories that are accurate and fair, advance methods and standards, expose wrongdoing and empower people to hold power to account.
Investigations support: We help others in the media do it too via training, editorial collaborations and organisational support.
Advocacy: We lobby, campaign, exercise laws and litigate to help secure the information rights – access to information and media freedoms – that are the lifeblood of our field.
We publish our stories on this website and via a range of publication partners and platforms.
We answer to a board consisting of Prof Tawana Kupe (chair), Nic Dawes, Sithembile Mbete, Sisonke Msimang, Angela Quintal, Sally Evans (staff rep), Stefaans Brümmer and Stephen (Sam) Sole. Stefaans and Sam are executive directors.
Bringing transparency, bringing about change.
AmaBhungane’s small team of investigators has forced information into the public domain where there was none. Our investigative stories — exposés on institutional independence being undermined, corruption, corporate malfeasance and “state capture” – have contributed to political and corporate changes that included the resignation of South Africa’s president in February 2018.
We have helped others do and develop investigative journalism by hosting over sixty fellows and holding regular workshops. Some of our alumni went on to found centres like ours elsewhere in Southern Africa. We support and collaborate with those centres.
Our advocacy has secured information flows for journalists and the public at large. We helped found the campaign that stopped the “Secrecy Bill; secured legislative amendments including to make company ownership transparent; litigated successfully including to preserve the public status of court records; and improved access-to-information law by exercising it in and out of the courts.
How do we pay our bills?
We are a non-profit, there to serve the public. We do not sell our stories. Members of the public —our amaB Supporters — and charitable foundations support us.
We are fiercely independent. We do not sell advertising. We do not take funding from governments or corporates. And we do not take funding to investigate specific stories or themes. See our funding policy here.
All donations/grants above R10 000 in a year are vetted and declared publicly. Our declarations for the 2019-20 financial year are below. Earlier declarations are here.
Claude Leon Foundation
R1 000 000 grant and R429 816 rollover
Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa
USD88 100 (Jun 2018-Nov 2019)
R1 900 000 grant
R1 050 000 grant and R95 041 rollover
Open Society Foundation for South Africa
R1 500 000
USD100 000 grant (Jul 2019-Jun 2020) and R659 755 rollover
Frank Robb Charitable Trust
Cameron Schrier Foundation/EGG Trust via South Africa Development Fund
$50 000 grant (Oct 2019 – Sep 2020)
The Ruth and Anita Wise Charitable and Educational Trust
R750 000 grant (Oct 2019 – Sep 2020)