Mzilikazi wa Afrika inspires FS journalists

Mzilikazi wa Afrika, author of the book, Nothing Left To Steal – jailed for telling the truth, was the guest speaker at the first Free State Media Awards 2016 held at the City Hall in Bloemfontein.

Mzilikazi wa Afrika, author of the book, Nothing Left To Steal – Jailed for telling the truth, and also an investigative journalist of the Sunday Times, was the guest speaker at the Free State Media Awards 2016 held at the City Hall, Bloemfontein, on Saturday 19 November 2016.
During the awards ceremony Mzilikazi wa Afrika told guests about himself. “I come from a village called Sibambanyani, Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga. I fell in love with writing when I was very young. I wrote my first song when I was 11 years old and I wrote my first poem at 15. I became a journalist because writing is my passion, because I feel the truth has to be told without any fear or favour.
“I heard Mr Qoopane saying most of the entries they received came from press releases. I would like to share a little story about the press release for which I won my two awards. There was a short press release sent to all the journalists in the country. The message about a minibus taxi that had overturned at 04:00 one morning. All 20 passengers were foreign nationals and had died. When I received the press release, I questioned it and asked myself where did the taxi driver pick up twenty foreigners at 04:00 in the morning and where was he rushing to when the taxi overturned? I took a long walk to Komatipoort where the taxi was kept. I took the registration number of the taxi and tried to trace the owner of the taxi.
“As I started doing the profile of the owner of the taxi, I found that he was a modern day slave trader travelling to Mozambique and Swaziland where he picked up foreigners he brought to South Africa. Here he sold them to farmers as well as to those people who were building RDP houses in 1994. I pretended to be a slave. We went to a place where the owner of the taxi was operating. We were taken to a safe house, from where we crossed the border between Mozambique and South Africa, and were taken to another safe house. This is where my story begins. At the same house we were called in, one by one,
to where the boss was sitting. When you went in, you were asked what your skill was, if you were a builder or if you could work on a farm.
“After you had explained yourself or impressed them on how good you were with your skills, they asked you to strip, because they were hoping that most of the people who were crossing the border had diamonds and guns with them. And they took everything they had. When it was my turn to strip, I had a big problem because I had my passport and R700 stuck into my underwear. They asked me to strip and when I refused, they pinned me down. When my passport and money fell out, they started beating me. After interrogating me, they put me onto the bakkie and drove me to the Kruger National Park where they left me, thinking the lions would kill me. By the grace of God I survived and I could write the story. The culprit was arrested and sentenced to 25 years in jail, all this because of the press release.” – Flaxman Qoopane