Myburgh doggedly pursued and proved allegations of impropriety surrounding Prasa’s acquisition of Afro 4000 locomotives from a South African shelf company and a Spanish train giant. Rapport’s
months long investigation showed that the engines, bought at a cost of R600-million, were too high for local rail infrastructure, and that Prasa’s own engineers warned that the new diesel locomotives could come so close to overhead power lines in certain parts of the country that they could pose a significant safety hazard.
Despite vicious attacks by Prasa’s then-CEO, Lucky Montana, who accused Rapport
of a malicious and even racist campaign, and threw a brick at their reporter, Myburgh stuck to his guns and unearthed layer upon layer of dirt.
Montana was fired on Thursday, 16 July 2015.
“Our investigation shone light into a corner powerful people hoped would remain dark,” said Waldimar Pelser, editor of Rapport
. “We are very proud of Pieter-Louis, who showed tenacity and courage. I believe it is crucial that we continue to invest in investigative journalism. Bottom-line pressures are making such investment more difficult. But decaying public administration and rising corruption, also in the private sphere, make continued investigations ever more essential.”
Myburgh, who received the award at the Wits Club, said: “It is a wonderful privilege to be the recipient of such a coveted award. Investigative journalism plays a vitally important role in South Africa and such recognition, albeit not the purpose of our pursuit of these stories, serves as great inspiration to continue our work.”
According to the Taco Kuiper
judges, this was “classic investigative work: careful, patient probing to find supporting evidence for an abuse of public moneys, backed up with solid documentation, and powerfully presented to ensure it had impact. And it certainly did”.
Anton Harber of Wits Journalism School said on behalf of the judges, “This was an exemplar of great investigative reporting. Myburgh developed a tip-off into a national story using good sources, solid documentation, guts and determination. When the story was denied, Myburgh had cleverly kept the evidence up his sleeve to force an admission that there had been a blunder of massive proportions. The story had immediate impact, in bringing change to Prasa, and long-term repercussions in ensuring that crooks and frauds are brought to book.
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