Sunday, January 30, 2022

MasterChef SA season 4 on M-Net: The 20 contestants competing in the kitchen - from an art auctioneer to a dentist from Durban.

by Thinus Ferreira

The 20 contestants for the 4th season of MasterChef SA from across South Africa range from 19 to 49 in age, including a single mom, a marine biologist, a classical singer, an art auctioneer, a chartered accountant, a dentist from Durban and a "hamburgersmith".

The Covid-19 pandemic upended several of the MasterChef SA contestants lives. Some had to take time off to care for parents who got Covid, some had to change jobs, some lost jobs, and one lost her mom to the coronavirus.

Under the 20 contestants are a Muslim mom whose child is battling a rare disease, someone who taught English in China, another who worked as a marine navigational officer in China, an ad exec, a food blogger and even a software engineer.

Several list their grandmothers as their introduction and inspiration to making food and one even says her vintage Kenwood mixer is her best friend in the kitchen.

DStv subscribers will see them battling it out behind state-of-the-art kitchen counters at Makers Landing at the V&A Waterfront from 28 February at 18:00 in daily episodes from Mondays to Thursdays when the 4th season, produced by Homebrew Films, starts on M-Net (DStv 101).

Facing the culinary criticism of the new set of judges - local chef Zola Nene, international chef Gregory Czarnecki and food editor Justine Drake - the 20 will whip together the ingredients from mystery boxes and other challenges, work with imported as well as the best local ingredients, and try to beat not just the overhanging MasterChef SA clock ticking down the time, but each other.

The 20 new MasterChef South Africa contestants on M-Net are:

Signature dishes: Egg yolk and corn ravioli in a burnt butter and chili sauce with crispy basil leaves. Slow-cooked lamb ragu with butternut and goat's cheese stuffed gnocchi.
Favourite heritage food: Garlicky West Coast mussels with crusty bread. Karoo lamb chops on the braai with tomato salad and garlic bread.
A bit about: The quintessential foodie, Alicia has two passions in life: food and design. She's a self-taught cook who pursues food knowledge through every avenue from culinary short courses to devouring YouTube videos. Her main cooking style is modern Mediterranean. 
A gifted food storyteller, Alicia enjoys the scientific side of food, researching techniques and creating food content. Watching her mother cook Greek fare and her grandmother bake has influenced her warm relationship with food. She believes that food and the effort you put into its preparation is love made tangible.

Andriette De la Harpe (33), entrepreneur, Cape Town
Signature dish: Carrot cake.
Favourite heritage food: Velvet pudding (fluweelpoeding), green beans mashed with potato.
A bit about: Charming and with an effervescent personality, Andriette is a classically trained singer who worked in the high-paced world of events. After her retrenchment in 2021, she turned to baking speciality cakes for a livelihood. Her grandmother's vintage Kenwood Mixer is her best friend in the kitchen and, having cooked since childhood, she loves being in the kitchen with her dad.
Italian food is her favourite and she enjoys experimenting with curries. A performer before the pandemic clipped her wings, the bubbly Andriette loves entertaining people and her motto in life is to bring joy to the table.

Charmaine Govender-Koen (39), self-employed, Cape Town
Signature dish: Lamb breyani – slow-cooked lamb, with garlic and ginger, turmeric, loads of whole spices layered in basmati rice.
Favourite heritage food: Sausage chutney, lamb breyani.
A bit about: With an infectious smile and strong personality, Charmaine is a self-taught cook who comes from a big Indian family in Durban. Cooking has always been an important part of her life, and after she married her Afrikaans husband Frikkie, she's been blending her Durban Indian food traditions with his.
She worked in food and beverage management, but lost her job due to lockdown. She has since started a business delivering her homecooked meals, a show of her sheer grit and determination. Referring to herself as an alchemist cook, she has a special knack for bringing a fresh, contemporary twist and some Asian flavours to the plate.

Dedre 'Didi' Stols (30), art auctioneer, Langebaan
Signature dish: Fish sauce caramel pumpkin puffs, soft Polish pierogi with sticky duck filling.
Favourite heritage foods: Waterblommetjiebredie, lamb curry bunny chow.
A bit about: As much as she loved being an art auctioneer and gallery manager on cruise ships, the pandemic meant Didi has had more time to indulge her first love – food. Her cooking style is bold – it's as complimentary as it is a juxtaposition of flavours.
a child, she took out cookbooks from the library and while her free-spirited mother didn't cook, so the adventurous and creative Didi started cooking for the family aged just 8. 
She is drawn to the various curries of Asia, the picante combinations of Mexico, the comfort of South African food, the techniques of Europe and the aromas of the Middle East. She is ready to make food her life. Her dream is to teach others to cook.

Signature dish: American-style smash burgers, infusing rooibos and fynbos flavours in his dishes.
Favourite heritage food: All things pap, for its versatility and that it is loved by diverse food cultures.
A bit about: Rebellious and light-hearted, James is this season's youngest contestant. Cooking since age 7, he attended culinary classes at Silwood Culinary School aged just 13. Inspired by South Africa's rich and diverse heritage, he loves open-flame cooking and describes his style as street food from different cultures.
Known for pushing boundaries, James is this season's lovable wild child. He dropped out of Stellenbosch University to pursue his culinary passion. James wants to use his privilege as a white South African to create opportunities for others.

Signature dishes: Cape Malay chicken curry, crumbed mushrooms.
Favourite heritage food: Chokka curry, boeber.
A bit about: As an HR consultant, Lisa loves working with people, and especially people happy with food. She wants to elevate Cape Malay cooking, adapted to the professional table and merged with what she knows and loves. 
With positive energy and quite the orator, she started cooking at the age of 10, cooking alongside her grandmothers and her mother. The kitchen is her happy and safe space – she coped with depression and childhood bullying with her love of cooking.
freestyle creative, she prefers to cook with what's at hand on the day, as her secret weapon is the ability to visualise and build a flavour profile in her head. Lisa has a love for fishing: she spends a lot of time on the rocks in her own special place, catching squid in the summer months.

Signature dishes: Spiced rooibos malva pudding with homemade gelato and crème anglaise, braised ox tongue.
Favourite heritage food: Umleqwa (hard body chicken).
A bit about: With almost 120 000 Instagram followers, Luyanda is a food influencer who sees creative plating and flavour development as her strengths. She cooks everything from African and Italian, to modern cuisines from around the world. 
Cooking since age 7, the outspoken and independent Luyanda's real love for food was ignited by the sad loss of her beloved grandmother – cooking made her feel more connected to her late gran. Making food that is evocative and has heart, there is never a dull moment when she's on screen. 
She previously made it to the semi-finals of My Kitchen Rules SA, and her greatest influence is Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, the first Michelin star chef who has put South African cuisine on the world stage.

Signature dishes: Chicken pesto pasta, his Pink Panther burger. 
Favourite heritage food: Mogodu and Skop (afval/ sheep's or cow's head).
A bit about: Introverted and sincere, Masedi loves street food, saucy food and loaded burgers. He loves burgers so much, he started his own burger joint, Bun2Belly. He doesn't have a specific cooking style, and an aviator and gastronomer at heart.
Guided by a strong moral compass and with traditional values, he wants to fuse the African cuisine he grew up with with other cuisines. His greatest influences are chef and restaurateur Wandile Mabaso, entrepreneur and cook Tebello "Tibz" Motsoane, the late Lesego Semenya and Sven Ritz Mann.

Signature dishes: Apple and pork belly risotto, lamb shank with gnocchi.
Favourite heritage food: waterblommetjiebredie, malva pudding with custard, brandy snaps.
A bit about: Cooking since age 5, Matthew combines his interest in other food cultures with comforting classics. Quiet but definitely not a wallflower, his cooking styles are mainly Greek and Italian, with some Middle Eastern and French influence. 
Matthew began experimenting with different cultural flavours and cuisines as a teenager, but it's his recent experience teaching English in China that stepped up his game, as he learned to cook from the locals.
Known for preparing meals with thoughtfulness and care for his family and friends, his passion for cooking was reignited when he took a year off to care for his mother when she contracted Covid-19. It was she who motivated him to enter MasterChef South Africa.

Signature dishes: Coconut Panna Cotta, mango caviar, lychee sorbet and crumble, as well as pistachio crusted lamb, pea purée, fondant potato's and pan sauce.
Favourite heritage food: Savoury smoked butter chicken; Traditional milk tart.
A bit about: With his persona of "The Suited Chef", this suave gastronome is a self-taught cook who combines French techniques with flavours from around the world to create his unique dishes. Coming from an Indian male-dominated society that typically reserves the kitchen for women, Mohammed would like to smash the stigma.
Seemingly mild-mannered, he's an extremely driven perfectionist with a unique culinary persona. At age 8, Mohammed decided to secretly experiment and bake biscuits for the very first time, all on his own, in his bedroom with his little sister keeping watch. He credits his family as his number one culinary influence.

Signature dishes: Asian steamed pork dumplings, pan-fried chicken gyoza.
Favourite heritage food: Umvubo, imfino.
A bit about: Having worked as a marine navigational officer in China, the shy and reserved Onezwa is well-travelled, knowledgeable and wholesome. She moved back to Willowvale in 2020 to follow her dream of growing her own food, a passion that shines through on MasterChef South Africa and on her Instagram page, the Green Thumbed Fairy.
While working in China, she became quite the dumpling connoisseur, and she now excels at her own homemade Asian dumplings. A dedicated mother, Onezwa was inspired by her own late mother to fall in love with cooking, and she uses that skill and gift to reconnect with her mother’s memory and pass down the heritage to her young son.

Ontiretse ‘Onti’ Molloyi (32), digital marketing & communications specialist, Mahikeng
Signature dish: Five-spiced flavoured pork belly with parsnip puree and chips, pickled apple, fennel and cucumber.
Favourite heritage food: mogodu, samp (which she enjoys with pulled beef).
A bit about: Stylish and very lovable, Onti is a devoted mother of two who was encouraged by her children to enter. Her background in catering exercised her creative muscles, however, due to Covid she's back to a corporate job. As a mom who has to prep healthy and delicious suppers for her family, Onti is inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi's creative treatment of vegetables.
Her earliest memories are of being in the kitchen at age 10, helping her mom bake and that’s why baking is her first love. Influenced by French cuisine, her own vibe is more comforting Italian style. Although she now back in the demanding corporate world, Onti still finds time to offer weeknight online ‘cook-along’ sessions from her kitchen.

Signature dish: Asian-style mussels cooked over monster heat in his fragrant broth and served with crispy fried onion and heaps of parsley.
Favourite heritage food: Smoorsnoek, bobotie.
A bit about: Passionate, driven and one who thrives under pressure, Shawn has been cooking since childhood. As his mom was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, he and his siblings had to help with chores around the house, and he gravitated towards the kitchen. His food fuses Middle Eastern and Asian styles, pushing the boundaries of the ingredients.
A proud family man, Shawn cooks for his family and friends daily, and he shows tenacity and hard work in the competition. Well-rounded and balanced, Jamie Oliver is his greatest food influence.

Signature dishes: Beef lasagne from scratch, making his own patties and brioche buns for burgers.
Favourite heritage food: Pap, lamb stew with spinach or cabbage.
A bit about: Previously working as an activations manager and now a content creator, Sli is the soft-spoken gentle giant loved by everyone. A fan of MasterChef Junior and British TV chef Gordon Ramsay, he entered the competition to prove to himself that he can take on challenges and learn from different experiences. 
The shy Sli's style of cooking varies between African, Italian and American.
Sli's memory of food and cooking goes back to chopping vegetables for his mother in early high school – it went from being a chore to something that he really loved doing. Winning MasterChef SA would put a stamp on his passion for cooking: he wants to travel the world to explore different cuisines and grow his palate.

Signature dish: Homemade ravioli filled with pumpkin and pork mince (created with his Gogo's secret spice mix).
Favourite heritage food: Samp and beans.
A bit about: A morning person known for his love of baking, Sims entered MasterChef South Africa to convince himself and his family that he should pursue an education in culinary arts should he make it to the Top 5. 
Inspired from childhood by his grandmother's cooking and baking, his Gogo enrolled him in a baking class at church where he was the only male to attend. But rather than open up the bakery of his boyhood dreams, he bottled up his love for the kitchen and studied mathematical statistics. His high energy and good vibes are infectious, and he keeps his ready smile throughout the highs and lows of the competition.

Signature dishes: Greek lamb with skordalia, fresh hake with rustic mash and green beans in anchovy butter.
Favourite heritage food: Vetkoek with butter, apricot jam and boerewors; krummelpap with a smoorsous.
A bit about: The self-confessed cavalier cook previously worked as a food stylist and her goal is to let food taste as good as it looks. Sylvie sees herself as a food version of a musician playing by ear – she can cook by taste. Her default is Mediterranean and French cooking.
Describing her food style as "gonzo", cooking has always represented freedom and self-sufficiency for Sylvie. Growing up, she used to come home from school and cook things up for herself. Her heroes include Anthony Bourdain, British chef and restaurateur Marco Pierre White and South African chef and restaurateur Karen Dudley.

Signature dish: Harissa lamb ribs, peanut butter and banana profiteroles.
Favourite heritage food and flavours: Rooibos for its versatility, traditional chicken stew with amandombolo.
A bit about: A researcher at the Human Sciences Research Council, the adventurous and bright – yet zen – Tarryn is happiest when she's feeding people. Although she's a self-confessed messy cook, being methodical and detailed helps her remain calm under pressure. Tarryn is a self-taught cook with a rustic style of Mediterranean and Asian cuisine mixed with South African.
Her food heroes are French chef and restaurateur Alain Passard and the late chefs and authors Lesego Semenya and Anthony Bourdain. An introverted academic, she is an engaging storyteller, especially on food’s connecting power. She has a tattoo of ramen on her arm.

Signature dishes: Liquorice Sojee – a dish that involves turning a classic Indian sweet dish into a new creation using deactivated charcoal and liquorice for flavouring.
Favourite heritage food: Baked beans bunny chow and Gatsby.
A bit about: Kind, and with a very touching story and interesting approach to her heritage cooking, Tasnim describes her cooking style as Indian-fusion home cooking. Her strength in the kitchen is her ability to balance spicing and creativity when it comes to creating fusion dishes.
Having lost very close family members to Covid, including her mom, she entered MasterChef SA as a way to honour her mom. As very observant in her Muslim faith, she contributed to the Halaal guidelines for the MasterChef SA pantry. She found comfort in cooking and baking after her eldest daughter was diagnosed with the rare disease, Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

Signature dish: Wild mushroom Samp risotto with beef medallion, balsamic reduction and lemon juice dressed microgreens.
Favourite heritage food: Umphokoqo with amasi, amanqina enukhu (chicken feet).
A bit about: Multifaceted, intelligent and inquisitive, Tembisa is as passionate about people-centric biodiversity conservation and transformation, as she is about being in the kitchen. 
Cooking since age 10, the tenacious nonconformist who grew up in Dobsonville and in Eastern Cape, has fond memories of her beloved late grandmother through food. With a rustic cooking style and using only seasonal ingredients, Tembisa enjoys cooking African, Italian and Asian food, and has great respect for the ingredients just like her inspiration, TV Chef Jamie Oliver. She prepares home-cooked meals and shares them on her Instagram page, tembisa_cooks.
Besides being a scientist and a foodie, Tembisa is also a filmmaker and she recently won second runner-up in the Yale University Environment 360 Video Contest for her multi-award-winning short documentary film titled Ulwandle Lushile. She holds a master's degree in marine biology from Rhodes University.

Signature dish: Butter chicken ravioli.
Favourite heritage food: Curry with dhal and rice; hot, freshly made chilli bites with a cup of tea.
A bit about: Sociable, convivial and every contestant's best friend, Dr Harri loves his job and especially its social aspect. Easy-going and with a sense of humour, his fun nature doesn't take away from the fact that he's very serious about his cooking. For him, cooking is a welcome relief after a demanding work day.
Very confident in his skills, Dr Harri’s style is true to his South African Indian roots. He also enjoys the Italian way of cooking, with its fresh flavours and ingredients well suited to his own approach that "the less fuss, the better the food will taste".

Friday, January 28, 2022

BREAKING. In shocking move the South African public broadcaster fires SABC News boss Phathiswa Magopeni - plus reaction:

by Thinus Ferreira

In a shocking move that's incredibly damaging for what remains of its credibility as a public broadcaster and its struggling news division, the SABC on Friday abruptly fired its SABC News boss Phathiswa Magopeni.

Scroll down for reaction.

The SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe told Phathiswa Magopeni in a letter on Friday that she has been fired, writing, "The SABC finds that there is a breakdown in the trust relationship between you and the SABC".

The SABC ordered Phathiswa Magopeni to hand in all of the broadcaster's property in her possession no later than 12:00 on 31 January. 

Following her appointment in 2016 as SABC News boss, Phathiswa Magopeni has been instrumental in trying to rebuild the credibility and editorial independence of the SABC's struggling news division with her firing that is not just a massive loss for the broadcaster, but hugely damaging for its image and SABC News brand.

After Phathiswa Magopeni's abrupt axing on Friday, all the SABC News bulletins on SABC radio and SABC TV channels instantly switched to propaganda-style "reporting" about it, with very badly-done, one-sided "reporting" in which SABC radio and television news readers only read out what is actually the SABC press statement, without saying so to readers and viewers.

None of the SABC News so-called "news reports" about Phathiswa Pagopeni's firing included any comments from Phathiswa Magopeni herself although it exists, or any facts about what led to the situation, or that Phathiswa Magopeni had accused the SABC CEO and SABC chairperson of gross political interference into the broadcaster's news division, or any actual facts of what's happening now.

Following a disciplinary hearing in late-2021 that found Phathiswa Magopeni guilty on one charge of misconduct for the failure to stop the broadcasting of an episode of the current affairs programme Special Assignment, the SABC has quietly been trying to get rid of Phathiswa Magopeni by trying to get her to accept a massive financial payout to leave - something she has rejected.

The chairperson of the disciplinary hearing recommended a warning for Phathiswa Magopeni, not that she be fired.

The City Press newspaper reported earlier this month that while Phathiswa Magopeni continued to oversee the SABC News division, she had shunned a massive financial offer to leave the troubled SABC that is once again suffering reputational and credibility damage over its news coverage.

According to sources, SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe and SABC chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini were ordered by ANC politicians to get rid of Phathiswa Magopeni.

Phathiswa Magopeni said that Madoda Mxakwe is resolute in "hounding" her out of the public broadcaster and that both Madoda Mxakwe and Bongumusa Makhathini called her on 24 October last year and tried to force her to approve and schedule an interview with ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa.

If true, this is a clear transgression of SABC rules against editorial interference by SABC top execs and the SABC board into the operations of the SABC newsroom.

The SABC in a terse statement late on Friday afternoon at 17:22, said that Phathiswa Magopeni "was was afforded an opportunity to submit mitigating factors and to address aggravating factors identified by the SABC, in line with the rule of natural justice and the audi alteram partem principle".

"After several requests for extensions, instead of taking up the opportunity to submit her mitigating factors and distance herself from the remarks in, amongst other things, the heads of argument submitted on her behalf, she elected not to submit her mitigating factors. Thus, she waived her right to do so."

"In the absence of Phathiswa Magopeni’s mitigating factors, the SABC concluded that there is a breakdown in the trust relationship between her and the SABC."

"Consequently, Phathiswa Magopeni’s services have been terminated with immediate effect and she has been informed accordingly."

Gugu Ntuli, SABC spokesperson, didn't say who is the acting SABC News boss in the statement.

Phathiswa Magopeni told the SABC in a letter she wrote earlier this week on 27 January 2022 that "I have been severely prejudiced in the disciplinary hearing process as not only have I been denied the opportunity to provide my mitigating factors to the chairperson for his consideration in relation to sanction, in addition, the SABC intends to consider its own factors in aggravation for purposes of reaching a decision on sanction".

Phathiswa Magopeni told the SABC that she "takes issue with the chairperson's findings and will in due course challenge his findings at the appropriate time and forum".

Exactly as TVwithThinus predicted and noted earlier this year, the completely untenable David vs Goliath battle that has been playing out at the SABC between Phathiswa Magopeni against Madoda Mxakwe and Bongumusa Makhathini, meant that either she or they would very likely be getting fired before 2022 was over.

That has now happened.

With the ANC's next national elective conference taking place at the end of this year, the ANC through Madoda Mxakwe and Bongumusa Makhathini have been revealed to have applied immense pressure and political interference to get rid of Phathiswa Magopeni.


Media Monitoring Africa
Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) director William Bird in interviews on Newzroom Afrika and SABC News on Friday night said that the firing of Phathiswa Pagopeni is "a very, very sad day for the SABC and for South Africa".

"There are certain people who will obviously be rejoicing at the turn of events. I think it's sad because thanks to Phathiswa Magopeni, the SABC executive team and of course the SABC board that have been able to restore the credibility and independence of the SABC over the last couple of years."

"If you look at where it was in 2016, Phathiswa came in and she has been able to do an incredible job. For her tenure at the SABC to end in this particular manner is really an unfortunate way for things to be going at the SABC."

The Bemawu trade union at the SABC of which Phathiswa Magopeni was not a member, on Friday night said that Bemawu "is utterly shocked by the decision of the SABC to fire her".

Hannes du Buisson, Bemawu president, told SABC News in an interview at 20:20 that "Phathiswa Magopeni is the first person ever in the history at the SABC who got fired because she did not distance herself from heads of argument that were submitted by her lawyer, because that is essentially what she's being fired for".

"Phathiswa Magopeni is not a member of Bemawu but we are concerned about the state of affairs and the way that disciplinary action has been taken against her as an SABC employee, regardless of whether that person is a member or not."

South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) ONE
Sbu Ngalwa, chairperson of the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef), said that the organisation "is extremely disappointed by this SABC decision to terminate the employment of Phathiswa Pagopeni".

He told SABC News in an interview on Friday night that "we had hoped that sanity would prevail and in the end the SABC would follow the direction of the disciplinary hearing which was to give a hearing to Phathiswa Magopeni."

"What muddies the water is that Phathiswa Magopeni has an existing complaint against the SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe and SABC board chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini. Given that state of affairs, obviously, you don't expect that the very same people she is complaining against, would give her a fair hearing."

Sbu Ngalwa said "one would have expected, at the very least, that her complaint is heard and adjudicated before you have a decision taken by SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe. In this instance Madoda Mxakwe is pretty much referee and player given the fact that he has a pending complaint against him."

"The optics of Phathiswa Magopeni's dismissal actually do not look good for the SABC and I think it takes the SABC a few steps backwards."

"The SABC comes from the sad era of Hlaudi Motsoeneng who mismanaged the SABC. We know the ratings of the SABC in recent months and years have shown when it took a decision to turn around to be an independent and impartial public broadcaster, the results are there for everyone to see. It is about the work that we have seen for years."

South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) TWO
In an official statement on Saturday morning, Sanef says it condemns the "outrageous decision" to fire Phathiswa Magopeni, that the SABC top management and SABC board are behaving in a questionable manner and that Phathiswa Magopeni "has been treated unfairly by the SABC as they continued to ignore her submissions to their various nefarious intents".

Sanef said Phathiswa Pagopeni's axing as SABC News boss "comes before a panel had adjudicated her very serious grievances against SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe and SABC chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini, alleging that they had interfered in the editorial independence of the SABC by forcing her to set up interviews with ANC president, Cyril Ramaphosa, during last year's municipal elections campaign".

"Phathiswa Magopeni confidently contends that her sacking is directly linked to her refusal to take instructions from her bosses."

"This pattern needs to be condemned because it makes a mockery of labour laws and associated processes. It also leads to a mistrust of our public institutions and denies the state broadcaster their constitutionally protected freedom of media."

"An environment where people can be fired following political interference by the ANC-influenced elections campaign leads to self-censorship and restraints journalists and media workers from the freedom they need to do their job."

"Phathiswa Magopeni has been treated unfairly by the SABC as they continued to ignore her submissions to their various nefarious intents, such as calling her to give reasons for mitigation against her dismissal, which she wrote back to, yet they ignored that and released an ill-informed statement regarding her dismissal."

"The SABC management and board, since making the announcement to charge Magopeni, has carried itself in a questionable manner that has not only been disheartening, but has also put a negative dent on the reputation of the public broadcaster."

Sanef says "It's unfortunate that the gains made in recent years since Magopeni assumed the leadership of the news team are now being taken backward, by a management team that wants to see the news division led asunder with clear political influence from the ANC."

"Sanef remains committed to media freedom and believe that the news division of the SABC should continue pushing back against intentional ANC propagandas, in whatever shape or form they take. We will continue to support editors at a key institution such as the SABC, who continue to fight back against any undue editorial interference."

"We are resolute that this outrageous decision by the SABC will be challenged by all endeavouring to see an independent SABC newsroom. The public, the main stakeholder in the institution, envisage to see no political interference at the public broadcaster."

Democratic Alliance (DA) political party
The Democratic Alliance (DA) political party in a statement late on Friday night said "Today's decision to fire SABC News boss Phathiswa Magopeni does not come as a complete surprise in light of recent worrying signs of efforts to politically capture the SABC".

The DA's member of parliament (MP) Zakhele Mbhele said "today's outcome tells us that the stench of state capture and political interference still lingers in the fabric of our public broadcaster, echoing the Hlaudi Motsoeneng era".

The DA said it would ask for the portfolio committee on communications and digital technologies in parliament to convene for a meeting as soon as possible "to have the SABC board and senior management account to parliament for Phathiswa Magopeni's firing, the severity of which is a patently disproportionate sanction in relation to the findings of her disciplinary process, and points in the wrong direction about the protection of editorial independence at the SABC going forward".

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) political party
The EFF political party's member of parliament (MP) Mbuyiseni Ndlozi on Friday night said that "the dismissal of Phathiswa Magopeni from SABC must be welcome [sic]. Her mission was to turn SABC into an eNCA lite. She did not appreciate the centrality of SABC's mandate to the entire South African public. At all material times she sought to dwarf it's public mandate. Good riddance!"

Campaign for Free Expression
Anton Harber, executive director of the Campaign for Free Expression, says "The context is that the SABC has in the past few years stabilised itself, asserted its independence and under Phathiswa Magopeni re-established a credibility and trustworthiness of its news product.".

He says her firing "also comes just shortly after she's come under personal attack from key ANC leaders and she has herself complained of editorial interference by SABC management, the people who are firing her".

2022 Big Cat Month on Nat Geo WILD in February roars with local filmmaking labour like Dereck and Beverly Joubert's first cheetah documentary.

by Thinus Ferreira

National Geographic has released the programming rundown for its annual Big Cat Month for 2022 that roars with legendary local filmmaking labour and that will run on weekends during February on the Nat Geo WILD (DStv 182 / StarSat 221) channel.

Nat Geo's WILD's 11th annual Big Cat Month will once again showcase visually impressive and powerful stories from around the world about lions, tigers, cheetahs and leopards on Saturdays and Sundays at 18:00 during February, including the premiere of legendary big cat filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert's first film on cheetahs.

Narrated by the award-winning actor Jeremy Irons, The Way of the Cheetah will premiere on Nat Geo WILD on Sunday 6 February at 18:00, following Immani, a cheetah female with 4 new cubs who must navigate the plains of the Mara ecosystem.

Living here is also a coalition of 5 males, and to save her cubs, Immani must avoid them. The Way of the Cheetah goes under the cover of darkness with thermal cameras, and the Joubert’s capture the lush colours of Africa. However, when it comes to the hunting scenes, these shape-shifting cats appear from nowhere in a blur, captured in ultra-high-speed motion and the battles turn epic. 

In Big Cat Odyssey (Revealed), premiering on Sunday 6 February at 18:45, Dereck and Beverly Joubert dive deeper into the issues that surround big cats, specifically African lions and leopards.

What struggles do these iconic big cats face? How have these lions and leopards survived and adapted over the decades? The Joubert’s lead viewers on a journey through the lives of big cats and their most iconic moments.

On Saturday 5 February on the day that Nat Geo WILD's 2022 Big Cat Month starts, Relentless Enemies will be the first show of the month-long event. It chronicles an epic story of how buffalo and lions survive and adapt to each other. 

A buffalo herd of over 1 200 is forced to move through three lion territories while being confined by the floodwaters on a small island in the Okavango. As the buffalo strategize their advancements, the lions react every move they make, all captured through the Joubert's lens from their home base in Botswana.

The Big Cat content continues throughout February with various premieres, culminating in War of the Lions on Sunday 27 February at 18:45. From Savannahs bursting with game to deserts with not a drop to drink, all lion kingdoms are not created equal - so who is the real king of the beasts?

"Big Cat Month continues to be an exciting annual television event, and certainly a firm fan-favourite. This year we are delighted to honour prolific local filmmakers Beverly and Dereck Joubert, whose lifetime of impactful and thought-provoking documentaries have brought viewers a greater appreciation for Africa’s big cats," says Christine Service, senior vice president and general manager of The Walt Disney Company Africa.

"Families can look forward to a month of fascinating, premiere, in-depth programming that reveals astounding new insights into these remarkable creatures, as well as highlighting the threats they face and the urgent action needed to conserve and protect our big cats for future generations."

Here is the 2022 Big Cat Month programming line-up:

Relentless Enemies, Saturday 5 February, 18:00
A buffalo herd of over 1 200 is forced to move through three lion territories while being confined by the floodwaters on a small island in the Okavango. As the buffalo strategize their advancements, the lions react to each and every move they make. From the Joubert's home base in Botswana, comes the epic story of buffalo and lions surviving and adapting to each other. Narrated by Jeremy Irons.

The Way of the Cheetah, Sunday 6 February, 18:00
There really is no other big cat on the planet that is like a cheetah. These are the most fragile cats physically and in numbers, now under 7 000 left in the world. Our story tells of Immani, a sleek female with 4 new cubs as they navigate the vast plains of the Mara ecosystem. But living here is also a coalition of 5 males, and to save her cubs Immani must avoid them.

Big Cat Odyssey (Revealed)Sunday 6 February, 18:45
Dereck and Beverly Joubert, dive deeper into the issues that surround big cats, specifically African lions and leopards. What challenges do these iconic big cats face? How have these lions and leopards survived and adapted over the decades? The Joubert’s lead viewers on an epic journey through the lives of big cats and their most iconic moments.

Ultimate Enemies, Saturday, 12 February, 18:00
Dereck and Beverly Joubert explore how some animals are thrust together by the forces of nature - sometimes through a millennium of evolution or even last year’s drought. In the aftermath of strange elephant deaths, they piece together a visually stunning story that confirms their theory that lions were hunting elephants. Narrated by Jeremy Irons.

Russia's Wild TigerSunday, 13 February, 18:00
Russia's Wild Tiger records the battle for survival of the big cats and reveals intimate details of their lives. The animals they prey on are also in the film: tigers couldn't survive without sika deer, Altai wapiti, wild boars and Asian black bears. A young tiger, born in a conservation area, will guide the viewer through the film. Russia's Wild Tiger accompanies him throughout the year after he leaves his mother. The young tiger takes the viewer to places where the fate of Siberian tigers will be decided: vast forests, remote villages and the cities at the edge of the wilderness.

Living with Big CatsSunday 13 February, 18:45
Dereck and Beverly Joubert lead viewers on their incredible journey with big cats - from the first time big cats captured their hearts, through their boundless dedication to protecting these iconic predators. This story explores how the Jouberts got started and delves into their personal lives as National Geographic filmmakers and explorers.

Thailand’s Wild CatsSaturday 19 February, 18:00
Hidden in the jungles of Thailand lies an ancient kingdom, a last refuge for Thailand’s wild cats. Apex hunters, nearly invisible, they bide their time as they search for prey, pursue mates and protect their young. Within this tangled forest, a world of drama and unbridled power awaits the clouded leopard, the Asian fishing cat and the king of the jungle, the Tiger.

Eye of the Leopard (Revealed)Sunday 20 February, 18:00
Dereck and Beverly Joubert set out to create a film on leopards but never imagined they would be seduced by a small, eight-day-old cub named Legadema. Eye of the Leopard follows Legadema's journey from a playful cub to a skilled huntress. Narrated by Jeremy Irons.

Shadow CatsSaturday 26 February, 18:00
The serval, caracal and black-footed cat prove they are just as extraordinary as their African wildcat counterparts, the cheetah, lion and leopard.

Eternal Enemies (Revealed)Sunday 27 February, 18:00
The Joubert's Emmy winning film is back with stunning remastered footage. Propelled by Jeremy Irons gripping narration, Eternal Enemies reveals the story of conflict between lions and hyenas, relatively unknown or even suspected in the scientific world before this. The intense relationship and enduring rivalry between the two species play out in a battle of survival.

War of the LionsSunday 27 February, 18:45
From savannahs bursting with game to deserts with not a drop to drink, all lion kingdoms are not created equal - so who is the real King of the Beasts?