By Pulane Choane
Karyn Maughan, whose career in legal journalism began almost two decades ago, has written some of South Africa’s most high-profile stories.
She is also one of the most easily recognisable journalists, as she often appears on television screens at news stations like Newzroom Afrika, eNCA, and SABC. As a contributor to BBC, she also appears on other international broadcast stations like Al Jazeera and SkyNews.
Karyn has also authored a best-selling book titled “ Nuclear,” which uncovers the failed nuclear deal between South Africa and Russia.
So it’s no surprise that her Twitter profile has more than 450 000 followers, and her many accolades include Multichoice Group’s “Fearless Storyteller Award” in 2019 at the Joburg Film Festival.
While she is widely celebrated by many who appreciate her grit and ability to elaborate on perplexing court cases, her valor and legal analyses have made her a target with the many politicians and social media users who disagree with her reportage.
She is often intimidated online and has even endured prominent public figures inciting violence against her on Twitter, thus raising once again the importance of media freedom and journalist safety in this country.
While she admits that her work does come with challenges, she also credits it for some of the most fulfilling moments in her life. Karyn says that, most recently, one of her most treasured moments was in interviewing retired Constitutional Court Justice Sisi Khampepe, who made history when she sentenced former President Jacob Zuma to 15 months in prison after finding him guilty of contempt.
“Throughout her career, Khampepe has shown intense ethical consistency. From finding that the 2002 Zimbabwean elections were not free and fair to find that the Scorpions should remain in the law enforcement system and having her findings continuously ignored or suppressed – she has shown herself to be someone who doesn’t allow herself to be affected by the political rhetoric and the political wishes of the time,” Maughan says.
Karyn adds that people like Justice Khampepe inspire her to continue reporting freely and fairly by always remembering to properly contextualise issues and report on complicated events so that people can understand these without confusion.
For her contributions to media and journalism, she will be among the distinguished individuals awarded the JMS 50 Alumni Award in Cape Town on Thursday, 29 September.