Johnny Masilela, The BEAT editor. Photo: TK Mashaba

My sincere apologies to ANC ol’ man river Zakes Moeletsi


Johnny Masilela   l   Views: 128

We at the newspapers are from time to time accused of displaying the age-old arrogance to the effect that we pretend to know everything.

Editors across the spectrum, from the smallest of titles to the mainstream, often boast about the catchphrase: reporting without fear nor favour.

But then from time to time we are rudely reminded that we are only human, too.

Last Friday the editorial value chain produced what should have been one of our best front pages.

I am talking here about the faded cover picture of the late Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela, holding hands and marching side-by-side with Waterberg ANC veteran Zakes Moeletsi.

In the background is the late Sam Makhubela.

Let me hastily place on record that the faded picture was brought to our attention by Bela-Bela Iron Lady, none other than the town’s own mother of the moment to many, Henrietta “Die Bang” Ledwaba.

Each time we write about Ledwaba we have to remind readers, her comrades and political opponents, that the nickname “Die Bang” was borrowed from an Afrikaans schoolroom set work titled “Die bang worsie”. 

Ledwaba was blessed with the nickname due to her girlhood blistering pace on the athletics track.

But I digress.

Back to The BEAT’s poignant front page picture last week. 

Hold your breath because oops! Somewhere along the editorial value chain a colleague picked up that we misspelt Moeletsi’s surname.

Corrections were immediately made and all was well.

But voila! When the newspaper was delivered from the printers in Johannesburg last Thursday, the misspelt surname stood out like a sore thumb.

Instead of hiding behind the tried and tested catchphrase of “reporting without fear nor favour”, I hereby admit that reality hit me between the eyes; that newspapermen are only human too.

My sincerest apologies to Zakes Moeletsi for the typographical, nay, human error.

Having said that, the newspaper with Mama Winnie and Moeletsi on the front page was received with nostalgic emotions all-round.

I had an informal discussion with, among others, The BEAT’s fiercest critic, Thabo Marema, who observed the cover story rekindled memories of yesteryear’s local political activists such as the late Sam Makhubela.

During the discussion it was suggested that as the nation was shocked by the neglect of Madikizela-Mandela’s banishment house in the Free State town of Brandfort, the narrative was also a painful reminder to create a downtown Bela-Bela statue for the likes of Makhubela.

As I was writing this, colleague Carina Bester dropped statistics from the previous week’s newspaper, which went for broke on the alleged crocodile sightings in downstream Pienaarsrivier.

In Bela-Bela alone newspaper sales went upwards of 70%, let alone hundreds of free copies delivered to institutions such as the local municipal headquarters.

We had our doubts ahead of the publishing of the headline “Pienaars croc fears”.

But readers snapped up copies like hot cakes.

Criticizing us in jest, Thabo Marema wanted to know if a man called Pienaar had a crocodile farm or some such thing!

I rest my case, your lordship.

15 months ago       12 April 2018