Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Iman Rappetti bows out from eNCA and NewsNight to write a book and read to her kids as Jeremy Maggs leans in and whispers: 'Are you alright? Are you okay?'

Iman Rappetti has bowed out of eNCA (DStv 403) and NewsNight, saying she wants to read more bedtime stories for her little girl, is writing a book and implored South Africa's journalists to keep asking questions despite silence and to hold up a mirror to ordinary people's struggles.

On a hot mic, accidentally not muted, eNCA viewers heard while she hugged her co-anchor Jeremy Maggs as the end-credits rolled, as he gently asked: "Are you alright? Are you okay?"

Iman Rappetti who immediately jetted off to New York for a well-deserved holiday over the long weekend, decided to leave the South African 24-hour TV news channel's prime time newscast that she co-anchored on most nights for the past half a decade with Jeremy Maggs.

Jeremy Maggs is also leaving NewsNight but not eNCA, having requested a shift to an earlier afternoon timeslot on the news channel.

This past Thursday evening just before the start of the Easter long weekend, with e.tv and eNCA that didn't issue a press release or a programming advisory to the media, Iman Rappetti signed off on her final NewsNight bulletin after over a decade with eNCA, about five years of which she spent behind the glass desk during prime time at eNCA's Hyde Park headquarters.

A visibly emotional Iman Rappetti wearing black and with two of her children watching behind-the-scenes in the studio, started crying.

She tissued-away tears on live television as Jeremy Maggs who called her "my friend", said "the country's best and most accomplished TV news anchor by far has read her final story".

"In her time here, she has proved to be a fearless journalist. Iman you ask questions that others are afraid to ask. But much more than that you have an eye for a story that's driven by a deep desire to get to the truth but never, ever at the expense of an abiding sense of decency and compassion," said Jeremy Maggs, who added that "myself and our loyal audience are going to miss you terribly".

eNCA closed out NewsNight by showing a terrific highlights reel of Iman Rappetti's reporting over the years at eNCA and eNews, containing bloopers, various hairstyles and some of her most arresting and courageous doorstop interviews.

Iman Rappetti for instance interrupted the Zuma Spear painting defacer and asked if he's "meant to do this", and asked then-president Thabo Mbeki afew years back, "Have you seen the warrants for Jackie Selebi?" (His flabbergasted answer at her wonderful impertinence: "You can't be serious.").

Most recently Iman Rappetti walked up to president Jacob Zuma after his cabinet reshuffle where he refused to talk to the media as the sole journalist there brave enough to shout out: "Mister president, I just want to ask why you fired the finance minister? Are you able to give us some answers please sir? Mister Zuma?"

Iman Rapetti said she decided to go into journalism because "I couldn't afford to be a human rights lawyer".

"I remember my mom was polishing the floor on her hands and her knees and I said 'I'm going to study journalism'. She said: 'How are you going to do that?' And I said it is going to happen."

Iman Rappetti talking about journalism and specifically why she asked president Jacob Zuma about his recent cabinet firings, said: "We cannot accept silence. Not from our leaders."

About her next chapter, Iman Rappetti said "I'm writing a book. It's really cool. It's going to be a loose memoir. But I'm going to spend time with my children. I want to hold their hands more. I want to cook dinner. I want to make butter chicken curry as many nights as I possibly can."

"I want to read my little girl more stories to sleep at night".

"I just want to encourage all journalists out there to be utterly and supremely fearless in what you do. And to remember that stories are not about you. They're about the families it matters most to - especially those who has a voice, but whose voices need amplification. We need to in a clear way just hold a mirror and a megaphone to their context."

e.tv and eNCA hasn't announced whose taking over as NewsNight anchors from Iman Rappetti and Jeremy Maggs.

eNCA's change is the third South African TV news channel that underwent a big on-air change in recent months.

Peter van Onselen left ANN7 (DStv 405) for eNCA as the Gupta news channel's last legacy, veteran anchor and on SABC News (DStv 404) Francis Herd became the new co-anchor next to Peter Ndoro after Vabakshnee Chetty-Miller signed off in January and left for America.