Watch: Susan Comrie takes Colombian journalism students behind the scenes of covering the #GuptaLeaks

06 September 2019 - AmaBhungane Reporters

Last month amaBhungane’s Susan Comrie traveled to Bogotá, Colombia where she participated in a conference hosted by the University of La Sabana. Comrie explained amaBhungane’s funding model; the unit’s editorial independence; investigative processes and source protection among other things.

Professor María Isabel magaña and Susan Comrie (Colombia, August 2019).

She also shared her experience in covering the #GuptaLeaks and the incredible processes undertaken during 2017 and 2018 by South African investigative journalists in revealing how the Gupta brothers managed to capture the state under president Jacob Zuma.

The leaks, which included well over 300 000 emails — dubbed the African Wikileaks — offered a trove of information directly implicating dozens of politicians and businesspeople who manipulated tender processes in order to benefit themselves, and ultimately the Guptas (who cut in members of Zuma’s family).

The impact from years of abuse, greed and corruption is still being felt in South Africa.

Read more on the #GuptaLeaks

Watch: Micah Reddy talks about the alleged links between the EFF and Dithabeng mine

24 July 2019 - AmaBhungane Reporters

AmaBhungane journalist Micah Reddy discusses his investigation into a Limpopo mine deal which has left the local community reeling from infighting and violent protests.

The traditional leadership is accused of hijacking the community trust and striking a deal with a mining company — owned by, among others Adriano Mazzotti, a controversial businessman and associate of Julius Malema.

Part of Reddy’s investigation reveals allegations that Mazzotti leveraged his friendship with Malema to defuse opposition to the mine.

The EFF denied meddling, saying: “Mr Malema has never done any of these things. We really have no idea what amaBhungane is talking about.”

While Dithabeng’s attorneys told amaBhungane: “Mr Mazzotti nor any of the directors of Dithabeng did not contact Mr Malema nor would they have done so. Mr Mazzotti’s friendship with Mr Malema is not abused for personal gain.”

Read Malema buddy’s mine leaves community reeling

Watch: AmaBhungane’s Dewald van Rensburg takes us through his Iqbal and friends investigation

05 July 2019 - AmaBhungane Reporters

Iqbal Survé’s businesses seem uncomfortably incestuous, given that the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) is investigating possible share manipulation at all three of his listed companies.

On 19 January this year, a remarkable thing happened to the share price of Iqbal Survé’s controversial AYO Technology Solutions.

After holding steady at just above R22 for three months, the share suddenly collapsed, spiraling to the current level of R9.

Read the story

It just so happens that 19 January was the day a downside protection agreement with the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) ended. This agreement lasted three months from 19 October and would have penalised AYO if its share price fell below R22.

Dewald van Rensburg unpacks the red flags.

Watch: AmaB’s Sally Evans asks Tabelo Timse about her “Toilet tender” investigation

05 July 2019 - AmaBhungane Reporters

Portable toilets are big business in local government.

An amaBhungane investigation revealed the Ekurhuleni metro spent a staggering R1.9-billion on chemical toilets over three financial years from 2017 to 2019.

The three-year tender to provide toilets to informal settlements was meant to replace the inhumane bucket system, but while this project is a relief to some, other residents regard it as a curse.

Critics suggest the project, where toilets were sourced from 16 small suppliers, was a get rich quick scheme for some underperforming contractors that left many beneficiaries with dirty and broken toilets.

AmaBhungane investigative journalist Tabelo Timse spoke to fellow dung beetle, Sally Evans, about her investigation and what it revealed.

Listen: Tabelo Timse discusses her toilet tender investigation on Radio 702

05 July 2019 - AmaBhungane Reporters

AmaBhungane’s Tabelo Timse spoke to Radio 702’s Bongani Bingwa about what she had uncovered after she went digging around a R1.9-billion chemical toilets tender or Imoto Entshontsha Imali (the ‘vehicle for stealing the money’ or the ‘getaway car’)  so-called by critics of the Ekurhuleni metro contract.

Listen to the interview.

Read Toilet tender stinks

Watch: Trailer for #GreenBlood investigative series

19 June 2019 - AmaBhungane Reporters

On every continent, journalists have faced danger and difficulty investigating environmental issues. Since 2009, at least 13 journalists have been killed after working on environment-related stories, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. CPJ is still investigating 16 additional deaths, so there may be as many as 29 cases.

For the first time, 40 journalists from 15 countries organized by Forbidden Stories were able to go in to the field, track supply chains and use open source tools to look into mines in India, Tanzania and Guatemala where questionable practices had previously been covered up.

The results of this eight-month-long collaborative investigation will be published the week of June 17 in 30 media organizations around the world to keep those stories alive.

Read Silence is golden for a Tanzanian mine

Watch: #RICAchallenge highlights with Karabo Rajuili

07 June 2019 - AmaBhungane Reporters

AmaBhungane’s advocacy coordinator Karabo Rajuili gives us her key takeaways from the first day of amaBhungane’s RICA challenge which was heard in the Pretoria High Court on June 4.

Eleven respondents are cited in our application including the minister of justice and correctional services, the minister of state security, the state security agency and the minister of telecommunications.

The Right2Know Campaign and Privacy International have been admitted as friends of the court.

AmaBhungane’s application contends that RICA affords the state undue powers of surveillance making it vulnerable to abuse, and infringing on fundamental rights.

This is evidenced in the mounting cases of surveillance capabilities used to target investigative journalists, political activists, unionists, and interfere in South Africa’s politics and public life.

Watch: Sam Sole explains amaB’s #RICAchallenge

05 June 2019 - amaBhungane Reporter

AmaBhungane’s constitutional challenge to SA’s surveillance law RICA is being heard at the Pretoria High Court. We started working on the matter after getting confirmation in 2017 that our Sam Sole’s communications were intercepted.

We’ll argue in court that RICA lacks the necessary safeguards to protect the public’s constitutional right to privacy, and the duty of journalists to protect their sources.
We’ll also argue for proper regulation of the state’s bulk surveillance architecture, which remains outside of any oversight framework and is wide open to abuse.

The Right2Know Campaign and Privacy International have been admitted as friends of the court. All the pleadings can be accessed via our virtual library.

Read more:

Listen: Susan Comrie talks Whatsapp messages and Floyd Shivambu

08 May 2019 - amaBhungane Reporter

AmaBhungane’s Susan Comrie speaks to Radio 702’s Bongani Bingwa about a series of cryptic messages that suggest EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambvu used his political profile for financial gain.

Read the full story: WhatsApps expose Floyd and the ‘Red Boys’

Comrie says: “We can see evidence from WhatsApp messages being exchanged with businessman Lawrence  Mulaudzi which certainly suggests that he [Floyd Shivambu] was asking for what he terms ‘interventions’. And what the context of the messages suggest is that what he was asking for, is money.

“The context of the messages suggests that what he is asking for is money – in one instance he provides bank details for his brother’s company Grand Azania which you would recall featured quite prominently in the VBS saga.

“Can we look into his bank accounts and see exactly what went in there and what went into Grand Azania, how he benefitted? No, not at this stage… It suggests that he is benefiting in some way and he is not disclosing that to the National Assembly and not disclosing it to us, the voting public.

“We think that around R6.2-million from VBS flowed through another company and into Grand Azania. Now is a member of the National Assembly benefiting from that money and not disclosing it? That is a question we need to keep digging into.

“Transactions, linked through Grand Azania … suggest that the company is really there to benefit [Shivambu] and perhaps not exclusively his brother [Brian],” Comrie says. 

Access the podcast here.

Listen: Susan Comrie discusses the latest corruption allegations against Transnet

24 April 2019 - amaBhungane Reporter

Radio 702’s Bongani Bingwa spoke to amaBhungane’s Susan Comrie about a forensic report published by City Press that implicates junior staff and senior executives at Transnet allegedly involved in corruption at the state-owned enterprise worth billions.

Comrie said the report was over, “R6-billion paid on contracts that went to China South and China North rail”.

She added: “If you go back, amaBhungane started covering these stories back in 2014, and it is one of the meticulous parts of investigative journalism where you are just scratching at the surface, but it is not apparent until you see the big picture.”

Access the podcast here.

Read some of our Transnet investigations:

Listen: Sam Sole unpacks the central role of Robert McBride in the ‘Saps Wars’

10 April 2019 - amaBhungane Reporter

The war for the soul of the ANC is a war for the country. Gangsters, cops, gangster-cops and gangster-politicians have a big stake in the outcome.

AmaBhungane’s Sam Sole spoke to Radio 702’s Bongani Bingwa about the third instalment in his and Caryn Dolley’s Saps Wars series of articles.

Part 3 traces the central role of Robert McBride — and his not so surprising fallout with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s minister of police, Bheki Cele.

In his discussion with Bingwa, Sole noted, “We forget that state capture began with the capture of the security networks and the NPA. State capture was originally a project to protect then president Jacob Zuma from the prosecution which has now resumed.

“How the consequences of that battle — the successful attempts to control the police, the Hawks, the intelligence and prosecution services are still working their way through now and the fight between McBride and Cele is part of that history.”

Listen to the podcast here.

When McBride was reinstated as the head of Ipid … he really began a campaign to clean out, what he regarded as the dirty cops — those that were there to serve their political masters.

“What we see is that this set McBride on a collision course with Bheki Cele, at least as far as the allegations of Bheki Cele’s history and the ways in which may have been compromised by crime intelligence,” Sole said.

Read Part 1 and 2 of the series:

SAPS Wars Part 1: The blurry blue line between the cops and the Cape underworld

SAPS Wars Part 2: It ain’t over till the fat Czech sings

Watch amaB town hall: A discussion on the upcoming 2019 general elections

05 April 2019 - amaBhungane

AmaB’s Sam Sole led a discussion with UCT Law Professor Pierre De Vos, Sunday Times journalist Qaanitah Hunter and amaBhungane’s advocacy coordinator Karabo Rajuili on factors influencing the upcoming general elections.

Some of the key issues discussed:
*Electoral reform *Coalition party politics *Fake news and social media *Political party funding reform and transparency *Patronage politics and corruption *Internal political factions.

Click on below picture to watch the full discussion or go here.



Listen: Sam Sole talks about amaBhungane’s investigation into police factions in the Western Cape

05 March 2019 - amaBhungane Reporter

Cape Town gangs are fighting each other. So what’s new? Cape Town police are also fighting – and the two battles are disturbingly intertwined.

In an interview with John Maytham on Cape Talk, amaBhungane’s Sam Sole said: “It is crucial in this season of state capture, where we recognise other parts of the state that were captured — the role of the Guptas and state owned enterprises, that we remember that state capture started with the capture of the security services. With the police, the intelligence services and the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority). The consequences of those battles are still working their way through and they’re still apparent even in the fight between Bheki Cele and Robert McBride.”

“Part of the problem with our intelligence service broadly is they’ve become politicised. Their whole purpose has been to support one faction or another and I think the criminals are celebrating that fact.”

Listen to the podcast here.

Read SAPS Wars Part 1:

The blurry blue line between the cops and the Cape underworld

Listen: Sam Sole unpacks the PIC inquiry with Bruce Whitfield

31 January 2019 - amaBhungane Reporter

AmaBhungane’s Sam Sole discusses revelations from witnesses who are testifying before the commission of inquiry into the state-owned Public Investment Corporation.

Sole commented, “I hope the information dam is going to burst now… The only way the PIC can survive with any integrity and credibility is if those processes are opened up. It’s such a huge pot of money; there are so many people jostling to get their hands on those levers, so the only way that public servants and the public are going to be protected, is if we can all see exactly what is going on.”

Listen here

More on the PIC:

A’yo goin’ down Dr Survé?

Survé’s listing ship

Did Ayo mislead investors?

Watch: Cradle of conflict

03 December 2018 - Zanele Mji

Watch some of the key interviews with characters from Zanele Mji’s Cradle of conflict investigation.

Listen: Craig McKune explains how information was sourced for the #Steinhoff investigation

05 November 2018 - amaBhungane

AmaBhungane’s Craig McKune explains how he and Financial Mail reporter, Warren Thompson sourced information for their #Steinhoff investigation.

McKune: “I think it is a nice example of how hypothesis testing can work in investigative journalism.”


Read the original story.

Watch amaB town hall: What about the private sector?

26 October 2018 - amaBhungane

What about the private sector?

Yes – what about those private sector crooks, profiteers and enablers of corruption? Are they getting away with daylight robbery, while we complain about the government? Is our corporate culture rotten? What can we do about it?

We discussed these issues during our town hall in Durban on 24 October.

Our panel, amaB journalists Susan Comrie and Sam Sole were joined by Lumkile Monde – strategist, economist, leader and senior lecturer at the School of Economics and Business Science at Wits, and Vuyo Mkhize – Communication and Crisis Management Strategist, as chair.

Watch the town hall discussion here and here.

Watch: A conversation with the whistleblowers behind the #GuptaLeaks

15 August 2018 - amaBhungane

AmaBhungane’s managing partner, Stefaans Brümmer speaks to the two whistleblowers behind the #GuptaLeaks. The two, who remain anonymous, tell Brümmer how they have coped since they had to leave the country in mid-2017 — at the same time amaBhungane and the Daily Maverick started to publish stories from the trove of emails and documents.

  • Watch the interview.

Watch: Tips on how best to communicate with us

14 August 2018 - amaBhungane

We rely on insiders and sources to give us crucial information so that we can do our jobs. But we also understand the risks associated with sharing information with us.

  • Watch the video on the left for tips on how to communicate with us anonymously

It is also worth noting the kinds of things we need from you to help us to start digging.

What we’re looking for

The people in the room and documents showing money trails. So think about what documents you have access to: contracts, memos, emails, messages.

Provided that you can access these documents without putting yourself at risk — we want to see them.

As journalists, we are outsiders to systems of power. If you are on the inside, your insight, context and specific information can be crucial to help us to hold power to account, accurately and fairly