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, Dr Sithembile Mbete, Sisonke Msimang, Angela Quintal, Micah Reddy (staff rep) and Stephen (Sam) Sole. Sam is the executive director.
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 some 80 fellows and presenting numerous workshops. Some of our alumni went on to found centres like ours elsewhere in Southern Africa. We have supported and collaborated with those centres, and scaled up the support by spinning off a separate non-profit, the IJ Hub, which we incubated from 2019 to 30 June 2021.
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 have unduly intrusive state surveillance practices struck down; 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. Earlier declarations are here.
Our declarations for financial year 2021-22:
Bertha Foundation grant
Apr 2021-Mar 2022
Claude Leon Foundation grant
Jan 2021-Dec 2022
R2 000 000
Millennium Trust grant
Apr 2019-Mar 2022
R5 700 000
RAITH Foundation grant
Apr 2021-Mar 2022
R1 135 575
Open Society Foundation for South Africa grant
Apr 2019-Apr 2021
R3 000 000
Jul 2020-Jun 2023
Cameron Schrier Foundation via South Africa Development Fund grant
Oct 2020-Sep 2021
The Ruth and Anita Wise Charitable and Educational Trust grant
Oct 2020-Sep 2021
Frank Robb Charitable Trust