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 independent. We do not sell advertising; do not accept donations or grants to investigate specific stories or themes; and do not solicit donations/grants from government entities or corporates.
All donations/grants above R6 000 in a year are vetted and will not be accepted if they are from a government entity or corporate, or present undue risk of a conflict with our journalism.
We declare all donations and grants above R6 000 a year publicly. Our declarations for the 2018-19 financial year are below. Earlier declarations are here.
Claude Leon Foundation
R2 000 000 (Jan 2018-Dec 2019) and R41 567 regrant from previous grant underspend.
Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa
USD 50 000 (Jun 2018-May 2019)
R1 900 000 grant
Social Justice Initiative
R300 000 (Dec 2017 – Nov 2018)
Open Society Foundation for South Africa
R1 500 000 (Apr 2018-May 2019)
USD125 000 (July 2018-June 2019)
Jannie Mouton Foundation
R26 482 (raised from others by running the Comrades Marathon)
Frank Robb Charitable Trust
Laurianne Claase and Lee Watson