Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) encourages African journalists to enter for the child-centered awards as entries close in ten days. All story ideas are to be submitted by midnight on the 30th of June 2020.
Story ideas can be targeted at any mainstream news medium such as TV, Radio or Online. The top six ideas will be selected and announced during an awards ceremony in September. The journalists behind these will each receive an award trophy and a guaranteed financial support of ZAR 10 000. MMA will also offer support to the finalists to develop their concepts. individual journalists must take sole responsibility to approach a media house and form an agreement to publish/broadcast with the media house in question should their story idea be selected as part of the top six.
Once published the top six stories will be ranked to top three and cash prizes will be awarded as follows, R25 000 (Overall winner), R15 000 (2nd place) and R10 000 (3rd place). The fourth cash prize for The Isu Elihle Mandy Rossouw Accountability Category is conditional. It will only be awarded if there is a story (in the top six) that meets the criteria for the category. The amount of money to be awarded for the Mandy Rossouw prize will be determined on the quality of the story published.
Project Coordinator at MMA, Girlie Sibanda says, “It is sad that despite them being the future children are seldom reported on in the media, these awards seek to challenge such stereotypes by making sure that journalists highlight children’s issues in the country and within the continent”.
For more details, terms and conditions as well as the Application Form visit the Isu Elihle Award’s website www.isuelihle.org
Entries are open for the Media Monitoring Africa lsu Elihle Awards 2020.
Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) invites journalists within the African continent to apply for the lsu Elihle Awards. Applications for this year’s awards open today (15 May 2020) and will close at midnight on the 30th of June 2020.
“Isu Elihle” is an isiZulu phrase and could be translated into English as a beautiful, great or simply a neat solution”.
MMA’s awards seek to give children a voice and highlight the status of children in our continent. Journalists are encouraged to submit their story ideas and these can be targeted at any mainstream news medium such as TV, Radio or Online. The top six story ideas will then be selected during an awards ceremony which will be held in September. Journalists behind these ideas will each receive guaranteed financial support of ZAR 10 000. MMA will also offer support to the finalists to develop their concepts. The final stories will be ranked and the final cash prizes will be awarded as follows: ZAR 25 000 (Overall Winner); ZAR 15 000 (2nd place); ZAR 10 000 (Third Place).
The media can play an important role in protecting and promoting children’s rights and, in many instances, in exposing their abuses and triumphs. This is informed by the belief that children are not a homogenous group and deserve protection of their rights in all stages of their lives from early childhood development right up until they are legally considered to be adults. The Isu Elihle Awards therefore aim to encourage alternative thinking around reporting on children, and to contribute to an environment that enables journalists to expose and highlight issues affecting children in the country and the continent.
For more details, terms and conditions as well as the Application Form visit the Isu Elihle Award’s website www.isuelihle.org
Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) announces the application date for the lsu Elihle Awards. This year’s applications will open on the 15th of May 2020.
Translated from IsiZulu to mean “Great Idea”, the Isu Elihle Awards aim to encourage fresh reporting and insightful investigations that seek to give children a voice and highlight the various issues they face across our continent.This is done by inviting journalists from across Africa to submit original child-centred news story ideas for publication or broadcasting in mainstream news media.
Story ideas can be targeted at any mainstream news medium such as TV, Radio or Online. The top six story ideas will be selected and announced during an AWARDS ceremony. The journalists behind these will each receive guaranteed financial support of ZAR 10 000. MMA will also offer support to the finalists to develop their concepts. The final stories will be ranked once they have been published or broadcast, and the final cash prizes will be awarded: ZAR 25 000 (Overall Winner); ZAR 15 000 (2nd place); ZAR 10 000 (Third Place).
Last year’s winner, Thomas Bwire said, “I entered the awards because l wanted to scale up the voices of children because in our reporting as journalists in Kenya or even Africa we don’t tell stories about children in most cases we don’t even get to hear voices of children in our storytelling, we just focus so much about politics and other stories but leave out children in our storytelling”. We courage journalist to start thinking about their story ideas and how they can ethically report on issues faced by an African child while making sure that their voices are uplifted
For more details, terms and conditions visit the Competition Information page on the Isu Elihle Award’s website
Africa’s Athandiswa Saba, Jamaine Krige & Yeshiel Panchia, Uganda’s Ruth
Atim, Malawi’s Collins Mtika, Zimbabwe’s Kennedy Nyavaya and Kenya’s Thomas
Otieno Bwire were announced as the top contenders on Monday 21 October during a
ceremony held at JoziHub in Milpark Johannesburg, South Africa.
Ruth is a
Ugandan Journalist, She works for the Uganda Refugee Online Network (RON), (https://refugeeonlinews.wordpress.com)an online platform that publishes
articles, images and News pieces about refugees and Migrants. She is the
sub-Editor and reporter. Ruth is also a Digital safety trainer under her
initiative “The Gender Initiative- Uganda (https://www.genderinitiativeug.org) where she trains and empowers
journalists and human rights defenders on digital literacy, Cyber security and
Collins was born in Malawi but bred in Zimbabwe
where his parents worked in the mines there. He did his primary and
secondary school level in Zimbabwe before he trekked back with his
parents to Malawi after some of the mines where closed in the late
1990s.He has worked for Malawi’s biggest media company, Times Media Group that
publishes, The Daily Times, Sunday Times, Malawi News and the defunct
The weekend Times where he was is Bureau Chief for the Northern region.
He also worked for the tri-weekly publication The
Guardian Newspaper as a Chief Reporter. He also corresponded for IPS
(AFRICA) and Collins is a Malawian Investigative Journalist and founder of
the Centre for Investigative Journalism in Malawi (CIJM) – www.investigative-malawi.org.
He heads the Investigations desk for Malawi’s popular online newspaper www.nyasatimes.com.
He is also the Malawi Correspondent for South African based weekly Mail &
Guardian newspaper as well as Africa Independent.
He is studying for BA in Communication Science with
the University of South Africa (UNISA) through distance learning. Collins
started journalism in 2003. Collins also has a certificate in Journalism from
Pen Point School of Journalism, a certificate in mental health, a Diploma in
Journalism from Agrrey Memorial and an advanced diploma in Journalism (ABMA).
journalist with 10 years’ experience. Prior to founding Habari Kibra, Thomas
worked at Pamoja FM, for nine years as News Editor and health reporter. He
holds a BA in MassCommunication
from Mount Kenya University. With awards like The CNN Multi-Choice in 2013,
Internews StoryFest 2012 and Children Legal Action Network (CLAN) under his
belt, Thomas brings a wealth of journalism experience and network to the team
of Habari Kibra.
also among the two Kenyan journalists who participated in a yearlong
International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) September 2017-September 2018
Fellowship reporting on Early Childhood Development (ECD). This fellowship
program has cultivated a deeper interest to continue reporting on ECD stories to
date. Thomas is passionate about mentoring up-coming journalists so that they
too can become better storytellers for the job market especially within
informal settlements in Nairobi.
Athandiwe Saba is
a multi-award-winning investigative data journalist who is passionate about
data, human-interest issues, and good governance. She has worked for three of
the biggest newspapers in South Africa and recently established the Mail &
Guardian Data Desk which she now heads up. She
has been internationally recognised for her work in data journalism by
the Global Editors Network. She is an author, an avid reader and trying to find
the answer to the perfect balance between investigative journalism, online
audiences and the decline in newspaper sales. It’s a rough world and a
is a multiple award-winning journalist who works for one of the biggest private
media companies in Zimbabwe, Alpha Media Holdings. His stories have been published
in AMH’s three flagships: News Day, The Standard and Zimbabwe Independent as
well as several foreign platforms. He has a passion to catalyse
informed solutions in society through enlightening the masses. Throughout his
career he has travelled to different parts of the world on duty and has
amplified stories on vulnerable populations, the environment and
socio-political topics among others. With a firm belief that climate change is
the greatest threat to mankind’s existence, he has also developed zeal to
become an instrumental climate change activist. It is therefore in the bid to
ensure mitigation and adaption to the effects of the CC phenomenon,
particularly on vulnerable populations, that he has been on an advocacy drive
for environmentally friendly activities through radio programs on local radio
stations as well as articles in newspapers and social media.
Jamaine Krige & Yeshiel Panchia
Krige is a multi-award winning broadcast journalist who picked up her pen at
age 14, writing for community papers, and has barely set it down since then.
She believes in the healing, transformative powers of storytelling. She
started her journalism career at the South African Broadcasting Corporation in
2014, where she spent the better part of five years telling stories of success
and failures, heartbreak and happiness. She was awarded the ATKV Media Veertjie
for Best Radio Documentary in 2018, as well as the SAB Environmental Journalism
Award for Audio. She was also the 2018 Isu Elihle winner for her story on
Scholar Transport Safety. She worked as an editor for a pan-african impact
communication company before returning to her first love – telling the stories
of the people she comes into contact with. She holds a degree in Psychology and
Criminology, and Honours degree in Journalism and is currently completing her
Psychology Honours degree.
is a freelance multimedia journalist based in Johannesburg, South Africa. With
a background in the corporate world, he was compelled to begin working in
photojournalism due to the upsurge of xenophobic violence some years ago. Since
then, he has worked as a staff photographer for The Citizen, stringer for The
Sunday Times and serviced many news agencies such as European Press photo
Agency (EPA), The Associated Press and Reuters, circulating many of his
pictures worldwide. He has a passion for documentary photography and hard news,
and works across the continent.
Media Monitoring Africa encourages journalists
across Africa to submit their story ideas for the organisation’s Isu
Elihle “Great Idea” Awards before the deadline at midnight on 23
Story ideas can be targeted at any mainstream news medium such as TV, Radio or Online. The top three story ideas will be selected and announced during an AWARDS ceremony that will be held in October 2019. The journalists behind these will each receive guaranteed financial support of ZAR 10 000. MMA will also offer support to the finalists to develop their concepts.
The final stories will be ranked once they have been published or broadcasted, and the final winners will be awarded: ZAR 25 000 (Overall Winner); ZAR 15 000 (2nd place); ZAR 10 000 (Third Place).
Project Coordinator at MMA, Girlie Sibanda says, “the call is for all African journalists to enter for these awards and it is important that they enter so that they will be able to promote children’s rights by reporting on both their abuse and achievements. This is a great opportunity for African journalists to showcase stories of African children. Journalists must however make sure that they follow the correct guidelines when reporting on children and make sure that they always put children’s best interests first”.
For more details, terms and conditions as well as the Application
Form visit the Isu Eihle Award’s website www.isuelihle.org
Entries Are Open for Media Monitoring Africa’s Child-centred Journalism Awards
Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) invites journalists across Africa to enter the organisation’s Isu Elihle Awards and stand a chance to win ZAR 25 000.
MMA’s awards seek to give children a voice and highlight the status of children in our continent.
Story ideas can be targeted at any mainstream news medium such as TV, Radio or Online. The top six story ideas will then be selected during an awards ceremony which will be held in October. The journalists behind these will each receive guaranteed financial support of ZAR 10 000. MMA will also offer support to the finalists to develop their concepts. The final stories will be ranked once they have been published or broadcasted, and the final cash prizes will be awarded: ZAR 25 000 (Overall Winner); ZAR 15 000 (2nd place); ZAR 10 000 (Third Place).
Applications for this year’s awards open today (23 August 2019 ) and will close at midnight on 23 September 2019
More About Isu Elihle Awards:
Isu Elihle: isiZulu meaning “Great Idea”
“Isu Elihle is isiZulu and could be translated into English as a beautiful, great or simply a neat solution… (The Awards) couldn’t have been conceived at a better time than this when the young are again asserting themselves through uprisings like #FeesMustFall and others…These awards also strike at many other stereotypes and seek to ignite a revolution in its own right.” Joe Thloloe, Director in the South African Press Council.
The Isu Elihle Awards were launched in 2016, the awards seek to contribute to a change in attitudes and behaviours of opinion and decision-makers and citizens across the country and continent from the premise that the media frames debates in society and carries enormous influence and, therefore, ability to drive positive change.
The media can play an important role in protecting and promoting children’s rights and, in many instances, in exposing their abuses and triumphs. This is informed by the belief that children are not a homogenous group and deserve protection of their rights in all stages of their lives from early childhood development right up until they are legally considered to be adults.
However, satisfying the public’s right to hear stories about and affecting children, while at the same time respecting children’s rights to privacy and dignity, is a delicate and difficult balancing act. Along with ethical dilemmas of an extraordinarily complex and diverse nature, journalists who may attempt to report on children are often confronted with a myriad of challenges including:
A lack of resources, both time and technical means, to conduct adequate research for stories,
Challenging existing media methods for reporting on children, through investigative and fresh approaches to news practices,
Inherent views within newsrooms where children are seldom seen as target audiences for news media;
The Isu Elihle Awards therefore aim to encourage alternative thinking around reporting on children, and to contribute to an environment that enables journalists to expose and highlight issues affecting children in the country and the continent.
For more details, terms and conditions as well as the Application Form visit the Isu Eihle Award’s website www.isuelihle.org
Media Monitoring Africa announced the 2018 lsu Elihle Awards winner on SABC news on Sunday 16 February 2019.
“Isu Elihle is an isiZulu phrase that means a “Great Idea” when translated to English. The lsu Elihle Awards where launched in November 2015 and has been running for three years. lts aim is to encourage fresh reporting, innovative approaches and insightful investigations that seek to give children a voice and elevate the status of the child all over Africa. In the past two years the awards were open only for journalists in Eastern and Southern Africa but in 2018 journalists from all over Africa where included.
This year’s top three winners are from the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) in South Africa and Mallick Mnela from Malawi took the 4th prize.
The winner of this year’s organisation’s lsu Elihle Awards is Jarmaine Kringe for her in-depth coverage of the issue of scholar transport. She explores the dangers that children face every day when being transported by vehicles that are not road-worthy and are driven by negligent drivers. Children are also given a voice to reveal how this affects them through her three-part radio series which was broadcast on SAFM. Kringe receives a cash prize of ZAR25, 000 after being ranked the overall winner by a panel of judges including child monitors and media practitioners.
The judges commended her reporting by saying, ”you always stayed true to the voices, experiences and wisdom of children and this is why as listeners we were frequently moved to tears”. Listen to the story “Surviving school Transport.
The second prize of ZAR15,000 goes to Krivani Pillay for a radio series on “How some South African Children under five struggle to access adequate nutrition” which was also broadcast on SAFM. He deeply looks at the access to child nutrition and basic healthcare services in the country’s different provinces how this leads to the high rate of child mortality. Listen to the story “The Hunger Games – giving South Africa’s Children the right life”.
The 3rd prize of the same amount (ZAR15,000) goes to Edwin Naidu who is the winner of the Mandy Roussow award on his three part article highlighting the issue of malnutrition and its impact on children in South Africa. The articles were published by the Sunday independent newspaper. Read the stories:
“Children suffer in twilight zone”“Crisis in human development”“Starved of food and education”“SA 4th on Child-friendly Index”
The final prize goes to Mallick Mnela from Malawi’s Zodiac Radio broadcasting cooperation who looks at the issue of textbook deficiency at schools in Malawi. He reveals how officials should be held accountable for the corruption at schools which sees free textbooks being sold in the black market. This unlawful act causes children to struggle as they are forced to learn with inadequate study material. His story was broadcast on Zodiac Radio Broadcasting cooperation. Listen to the story “Abuse of resources worsens primary education woes in Malawi”.
The application date for this year’s awards is yet to be announced, we call upon journalists from all over Africa to enter this year’s competition.
On 08 March 2018 Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) honoured the legacy of Mandy Rossouw through the launch of an awards category dedicated to the memory of the esteemed journalist who passed away in 2013. MMA made the announcement during a panel discussion which reflected on the media’s contribution to South Africa’s democracy in the past decade which was hosted at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in partnership with the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF).
MMA’s Children’s Programme Manager Ayabulela Poro said the category would be hosted within the organisation’s child-centred journalism awards. “The Isu Elihle Awards are yet another great initiative aimed at promoting quality journalism and shining light on the various and complex issues that face children on our continent. They do this by incentivising and supporting journalists [in Eastern and Southern Africa] to develop and investigate an original child-centred story idea and raise awareness around this issue by publishing the story in mainstream media.”
The panel hosted by Sakina Kamwendo (SABC) and which comprised Ferial Haffajee (Huffington Post), Chris Maroleng (SABC) Susan Comrie (Amabhungane) and Amina Frense (SANEF), recalled some of the biggest news stories and investigations which had a great impact on the South African media and political landscape in recent years. These included exposés such as state capture and “Nkandlagate” credited to Rossouw who first broke the story while working for the Mail & Guardian in 2009. The story reported on the excessive amounts of public money spent on former president Jacob Zuma’s private residence. Haffajee commended Rossouw’s “hunch” and noted her investigations as one of the significant media moments in recent memory: “Mandy Rossouw would have been 40 next week…I firmly believe she would have taken her place among this firm generation of media leaders that are sitting here and who really led us through an incredible moment.”
Given the integrity and dedication with which Mandy Rossouw carried out her craft, the Mandy Rossouw Award will be given to the best story idea in which the powerful are held to account on issues specifically related to children.
Poro said that Rossouw had also been a member of the organisation’s Children’s News Agency Advisory Board responsible for supporting the agency’s child journalists. The agency empowers children with the skills to write for mainstream issues. “In honour of Many Rossouw, her journalism and her immense contribution to our country, MMA is proud to announce that the Isu Elihle Awards will now include the Mandy Rossouw Accountability category for those journalists who are brave enough to do just that and to take up the courage to step into her shoes and to hold the powerful to account in the context of children on our continent.”
MMA said it would announce opening of applications for the awards in the middle of the year. “May our journalism thrive and may many journalists continue to stand on the shoulders of Mandy Rossouw and now the Mandy Rossouw Accountability category.”
Johannesburg – The thick keloid scar above Sizwe’s* eye is a symbol of the time he most regrets.
The wound, from a brutal fight with another boy, is darker than the rest of his face. He doesn’t elaborate on his experiences, even in the presence of social workers, but the marks on his skin and the slump of his shoulders fill some of the gaps where words are not spoken.
“I got involved with bad people. I can say my friends were bad,” said Sizwe.
He began by dabbling in drugs, mainly marijuana and alcohol, then a floodgate of anti-social behaviour opened. He regularly, and often violently, mugged people for their belongings. By the time Sizwe was 17, he was arrested for stealing a local school’s computers by brazenly breaking through the ceiling.
But Sizwe’s is a story of hope and redemption: plucked by a caregiver from his criminal path and taken to Ekupholeni Mental Health and Trauma Centre on Johannesburg’s East Rand, he now undergoes weekly group counselling and takes part in the centre’s Social Crime Prevention Programme.
Now 22, he earns a living at a local panel beater, fixing and painting cars.
“I love cars,” he says, “and I don’t do bad things anymore.”
Why do youths like Sizwe commit crime from a young age? Why do children act violently? Why, in Ekupholeni case manager Ramza Mofokeng’s words, are there too many children at risk of becoming criminals?
Sizwe comes from Zonkiziziwe, in Katlehong, where poverty, social injustice and unemployment are rife, undoubtedly contributing to the crime epidemic in the area. Of course, Sizwe’s actions may also be a condition of youth – teenagers are known to take risks.
Understanding crime and violence in SA
In his book Gang Town, investigative journalist Don Pinnock draws on a developmental psychologist’s view that “aberrant teenage behaviour” is the norm and its absence in a teenager is a cause for concern.
“Love and care are what families are for. A survival instinct that pre-dates human existence. Newborn babies feel this not so much through stimulation or feeding, but through responsiveness. Having a mediator between a child’s temperament and the challenges of entering and mastering the world creates bonding attachment,” Pinnock elaborates in the book.
“Good attachment doesn’t prevent possible later misfortune, but it does provide the resilience to cope with difficulty when it happens. Infants who are securely attached generally become well-adjusted children, explorative adolescents and responsible parents.
“On the other hand, children with parents or caregivers unable or unwilling to be a responsive ‘other’, or who are for some reason entirely absent, have trouble making sustaining emotional connections.”
Notwithstanding the complex factors at play, it is a piece of the puzzle so critical to understanding crime and violence in South Africa that, if grasped and addressed, may drastically reduce and even prevent its scourge and, as we will come to see, its intergenerational effects.
“I came to live with my grandparents at a young age. I was sent here at about six months old,” explains Sizwe matter-of-factly.
He has never met his father and he doesn’t give any details about his mother. His only sibling, an older brother, died a few years ago. Sizwe recalls his losses as if he were reciting a shopping list. He says his grandmother was “okay” to him and gave him lunch money.
Sam van der Grijp, the head social worker at Ekupholeni, explains later that Sizwe’s stony response is a coping mechanism common in children who have suffered emotional trauma.
Loss and trauma marred Sizwe’s young life
Sizwe’s early life is marked by the loss of his parents and an abrupt move to his grandparents. This is traumatising for a baby, explains Van der Grijp.
Sizwe’s peers in his counselling group have not all suffered the loss of parents, but most of them have a distant, even absent relationship with their fathers, and many of them have experienced violence in the home, whether through harsh discipline or domestic violence.
Van der Grijp confirms that Sizwe and many other children who walk through Ekupholeni’s doors have attachment disorders caused by absent and unresponsive parenting and violent home conditions.
Catherine Ward, head of the psychology department at the University of Cape Town and the editor of the seminal book Youth Violence: Sources and Solutions in South Africa, notes that, while not all children with attachment disorders become criminals or act violently, most young offenders have attachment disorders.
A simpler way to understand secure attachment as opposed to insecure attachment (which is traumatising for a child and may lead to violent behaviour) is by drawing from the message inherent in the popular children’s book Owl Babies, by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson.
In it, a mother owl leaves the nest, leaving her three baby owls Percy, Sarah and Bill alone. The babies become distressed at first but the two older ones, Sarah and Percy, rationalise that their mother must have gone hunting for food. They believe she’ll be back.
The youngest owl, Bill, is less secure and pines after his mom. Nevertheless, it even crosses Sarah and Percy’s minds that something terrible may have happened to her, although the thought doesn’t paralyse them.
Eventually, Mummy Owl returns and her babies are ecstatic. Mummy Owl says to them: “What’s all the fuss? You knew I’d come back!” The book continues: “The baby owls thought (all owls think a lot) – ‘I knew it,’ said Sarah. ‘And I knew it!’ said Percy. ‘I love my mummy!’ said Bill.
The theory simply posits that children who get distressed when their mother or caregiver leaves, and who calm down and feel contained when their mother or caregiver returns, have a secure attachment.
Such children feel “held in mind” and are confident that their caregiver loves them and will keep them safe. On the other hand, children with insecure attachments will feel anxious when their caregiver leaves, but not feel entirely contained when their caregiver returns.
A break in trust between infant and caregiver has lifelong effects. Psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk in his book The Body Keeps the Score, states: “…children who don’t feel safe in infancy have trouble regulating their moods and emotional responses as they grow older”.
“By kindergarten (nursery school), many (infants with attachment problems) are either aggressive or spaced out and disengaged, and they go on to develop a range of psychiatric problems. They also show more physiological stress, as expressed in heart rate, heart rate variability, stress hormone responses and lowered immune factors.”
If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy
Often, parents who are absent or who struggle with responsive parenting are traumatised themselves.
Van der Kolk says: “…parents who are preoccupied with their own trauma, such as domestic abuse or rape or the recent death of a parent or sibling, may be too emotionally unstable and inconsistent to offer much comfort.”
Sizwe’s parents and grandparents may well have been traumatised during and after the intense political violence that took place on the East Rand during the late 80s and 90s.
Van der Grijp believes that most people who lived through that time in Zonkiziziwe, Katlehong, Thokoza and Vosloorus have post-traumatic stress disorder.
“There’s a lot of healing that still needs to take place,” he laments.
Researcher Vanessa Barolsky, quoted in The Star newspaper in a 2014 article, The street where no-one knew your name by Shaun Smilie, notes that during the height of political conflict on the East Rand, “the number of dead was so great” the state was overwhelmed.
Bodies were piled on top of each other. “Between 1990 and 1994, it is believed that 2 000 and 3 000 people were killed on the East Rand.”
This is akin to a war zone.
In her study, Childhood in the Shadow of Violence: Kathorus South Africa, Barolsky says: “Memories of war… continue to configure the experience of the present for many young Ekurhuleni residents.”
An interviewee in Barolsky’s research explains: “There is not one young person who has not been affected by the past violence… This was never sorted out and, come ’94, when we were speaking of the rainbow nation, people forgot their pain. But, this is still acted out, in a mad kind of way.”
Moving to sanity – the hero’s journey
How can the course of a young offender’s life be altered so that he may be free from the shackles of his and his parents’ past traumas? Barolsky, in another study on violent offenders, commissioned by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, highlights the need for alternative ways of communicating; ones that don’t involve violence.
This is particularly hard for someone like Sizwe who sees violence every day.
“The taxis shoot at each other. I can say that someone dies every day here in Zonkiziziwe,” he said.
Barolsky says: “(Violence) is an ordinary way of getting something done, responding to a threat, protecting one’s identity as a man, or resolving a conflict.”
Ekupholeni’s Social Crime Prevention Programme, and the organisation’s weekly group therapy sessions help young people find alternative ways of being in the world.
The programme teaches skills like empathy and positive communication. The boys also get together to play soccer, which promotes friendship and connection.
The Child Justice Act (2008) highlights the need for rehabilitative and restorative programmes for young offenders and youth at risk, rather than taking punitive measures. Diversion programmes, which teach important life skills and promote community, aim to replace the juvenile jails and reform schools that existed in South Africa, and which failed to substantially reduce crime and violence in South Africa.
Pinnock says programmes and initiatives for high-risk children should focus on four key traits: belonging, mastery, independence and forgiveness.
These are inherent in the “hero’s journey”, made famous by mythologist Joseph Campbell.
Traditionally, a young person, dejected and downtrodden, embarks on a journey of self-discovery and faces many sizeable challenges. They overcome these using all their inner resources, yet with mentorship and help from people, animals and magical things.
Frodo in Lord of the Rings, Katniss in The Hunger Games and Luke in Star Wars all embark on a hero’s journey, at first reluctantly, but then, they experience redemption and resurrection.
Pinnock explores the value of programmes that honour a teenager’s ‘hero’s journey’: “Instead of condemning youthful wildness, (these programmes) capture its intensity in rituals that teach and empower while protecting social life from adolescent excesses… If a culture does not deal with the warrior energy of its young men and the spirit energy of its young women, it will turn up outside in the form of gangs, wife beating, depression, drug violence, brutality to children and aimless murder.”
Male mentorship and the father figure
A third of the children Pinnock interviewed in his book are fatherless.
“Their abiding belief is that they are not good enough and they feel fundamentally worthless. This contributes to them joining gangs, where there is a sense of belonging and where gang bosses are often the ‘father figure’ many young boys yearn for.”
Fight with Insight, an NGO and informal diversion programme based at the Children’s Memorial Institute in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, serves as a place where male energy is channelled through boxing and where male mentors provide coaching and counselling.
Luke Lamprecht, well-known child advocate and founder of Fight with Insight, believes that boxing assists with calming the nervous system down and channelling violent energy. His programme has been successful in rehabilitating child sexual offenders – these young men connect with others, form strong relationships with older male coaches and release trauma through physical activity.
Getting to the root of it – helping parents
“Positive parenting is crucial in the reduction of crime and violence,” notes Ward.
There are evidence-based early intervention programmes being carried out in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, that have been shown to improve the relationship between parent and child.
The 12-week Sinovuyo Caring Families Programme for parents of 2- to 9-year-old children provides a skills-based intervention that teaches ways to cope with child behavioural problems, negotiating alternative discipline methods that don’t involve hitting or violence. The programme also addresses caregiver mental health and provides social support.
In addition, home-visiting programmes have proven effective all over the world. Pregnant mothers are visited by a care worker, then have further visits for three months after they have given birth.
“Studies overseas have followed children into their 20s and found that early intervention has meant they have finished school. Which means they are more likely to be employed and therefore less likely to commit violent crime. Because they are employed, there is more income for the government, and the whole country benefits,” says Ward.
South Africa has it all on paper: we have one of the most advanced child justice acts in the world, and we have prioritised early childhood development in the National Development Plan 2030.
The National Early Childhood Development Policy is key in improving services to children from conception to age seven. These are the most important years in a person’s life. The policy is a significant step in the right direction.
Those who commit crime are not ‘the other’
Posted on the popular Intelligence Bureau SA Facebook page is a blurry photograph, likely a crude mugshot, of an alleged murderer. He can’t be more than 19.
He stares candidly back at the viewer, his face and half-naked body marked with scars and bruises like birthmarks.
People are baying for his blood – 645 people share the photo on their own pages, pleading to their virtual friends and to some diffuse cyber god to bag the teenager and possibly even receive the R100 000 reward offered by the SA Police Service.
Their words, hate-filled. Their words, super-glue stuck in fear and anger.
No one asks what brought this young man to this place in his life. It is complex, yet we as a society could have saved him.
Sizwe is healing. So are many like him.
It’s important to heed, even when we’re full of sorrow and blinded by hatred, social justice activist and author Arundhati Roy’s words.
She implores us to “pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple… To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.”
(*Not his real name.)
– Beth Amato is the winner for Media Monitoring Africa’s Isu Elihle Awards, which aim to encourage innovative and insightful reporting on children in Eastern and Southern Africa. This story was produced with the support of the awards and its partners. Amato walks away with the grand prize of R25 000.
Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) is proud to announce journalist Beth Amato from South Africa as the 2017 winner of the annual Isu Elihle “Great Idea” Awards.
Amato walks away with R25 000 for her story published by News24 and which explores the effects of emotional trauma on child offenders.
The adjudicator’s were impressed by the calibre of stories published by the finalists however Amato’s story stood out for its unique topic and research-oriented approach. Adjudicator, Phemelo Motene of Talk Radio 702, said, “To the winner I’d like to say, keep at it. You’ve done really well. But there’s one thing to do well and to not rest on your laurels. This continent needs more journalists who are more critical in thinking, who still go out there to do their best every single time. This is a great story, next time we still want a better story from you. The more of us strive to do better, the more we will be doing ourselves a service in the continent.”
Bashir Amin of Malawi who tackled the exploitation of children in the country at the hands of their parents, took the second spot which earned him R15 000. Collins Hinamundi of Uganda came in at third place with his story which brought into light child labour in Ugandan mines. Hinamundi has been awarded R10 000 for his story.
Director of MMA, William Bird, also congratulated the winners for their efforts. “The finalists for this year’s competition have again given the judges a difficult time with their exceptional stories. We look forward to growing these awards in 2018 and supporting more unique story ideas from journalists across the region.”