The Dispatch will persevere until the Enyobeni tragedy is fully explained
A year ago we fumbled for our phones in the early hours of the morning. A barrage of notifications broke through our sleep. Bleary-eyed we started reading them.
By around 4am we already had journalists en route to the Enyobeni tavern in Scenery Park after being sent horrific photos, videos and voice notes about the tragedy which was unfolding there. Shortly afterwards we broke the news online.
The world was horrified. Twenty-one children were dead.
While our reporters were unravelling conflicting information at the tavern, parents, community members and politicians converged on the area. Our photographer scaled walls and climbed onto the roofs of neighbouring homes to get photographs of the mayhem.
We fielded calls from international media houses all day and members of our team appeared live on international TV and radio broadcasts to report the emerging details.
In the year that followed our journalists delved into every possible area and spoke to those on all sides.
And yet questions remain.
To this day parents have never been allowed to see the final toxicology reports. Instead they were given confidential in-person explanations which they said made little sense.
This is a pattern that has repeated itself since day one. Authorities have contradicted themselves and gone back on their word at almost every opportunity.
Over the course of the year, several Dispatch journalists became close to many of the family members of the victims. They share with us their lost dreams and frustrations at the investigation and the lack of closure.
Often reporters are seen as callous or uncaring, but the reality is that we must maintain a hard façade to get the job done. Journalists are human too. And the toll that unravelling this tragedy has taken on several is real too.
While writers often have to sit stone-faced while asking questions on hard topics, many leave disaster and crime scenes to weep privately.
Our necessary objectivity requires a strong disposition, but it exists out of passion and compassion.
Nobody becomes a journalist for the money. And certainly not for fame.
Writers, by and large, are people who so strongly believe the age-old mantra of “the truth shall set you free” that they invest their lives to unearth it, whether they like it or not — without fear or favour.
The Daily Dispatch will never rest until the truth of the Enyobeni 21 is revealed. We will keep asking questions until we find answers that bring peace to the traumatised community and parents of the victims.
Our reporters were the first to bring the story to light, and we will be the last to let it go.
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