The ceremony went down at the picturesque Rhebokskloof wine estate in Paarl in the Western Cape. Just more than 40 invited guests attended the socially distanced event. Here’s a rundown of the highlights. The pictures were taken by Dané Vermeulen.
Rejoyce Legodi nearly did not make it to the Mother City for the Sinelizwi awards. Out of all the invited guests, her travel arrangements were the trickiest because it involved four different flights in a space of four days.
The afternoon before her first early-bird flight from Polokwane to OR Tambo International, however, Airlink called with shocking news.
It had suspended all its Polokwane services with immediate effect after the South African Civil Aviation Authority said the airport didn’t meet the minimum requirements for commercial air services.
Legodi, a public administration graduate, had to quickly make a plan B. Luckily she was already packed for the trip, so she could immediately jump on a taxi service to Jozi where she stayed the night before her flight from OR the next morning.
It’s a good thing she made it to the ceremony because she was announced as Limpopo’s top Sinelizwi performer.
The biggest shocker came when, hours after the Sinelizwi ceremony and luncheon, a call came through from five participants who missed their flight back to OR Tambo.
Our sources say they were dropped off in time by their shuttle, but somehow didn’t get through all the security checks and stuff on time.
Sinelizwi Games Master Duncan Masiwa’s jaw dropped. Shame, he was really worried about Gugulethu Mahlangu, Lieketseng Lecheko, Nozipho Ntshingila, Lebogang Malebo and Sharon Ndlovu who were now in a fix at Cape Town airport.
Luckily it was just a few administrative details that could be quickly sorted out. Mahlangu, a farmer and Gauteng’s top performer, made it onto the next flight.
The rest, however, had to sleep over for another night in Cape Town to catch an early flight back on Saturday.
Lecheko and Ndlovu were the Free State and Mpumalanga’s top Sinelizwi achievers.
Ntshingila also was the first runner-up in the prestigious Sinelizwi Citizen Journalist of the Year category besides being awarded for outstanding participation. Malebo was Sinelizwi’s News Journalist of the Year.
Besides being a heart-warming, thought-provoking and downright entertaining event, the Sinelizwi top achievers and guests were also dressed to the nines. It was a day-time event, so tuxedos and evening gowns would not work, but that didn’t stop them from still dressing up.
Television host and actress Chanelle Davids-Abrahams set the tone with her classy look and flawless performance as MC for the Sinelizwi awards.
She is one of South Africa’s most loved presenters after being on the screen for, among others, Hectic Nine-9 and Beter assie bure. Also, Davids-Abrahams currently stars in the new hit movie, Swirl.
Singer Zeldene McDonald had the tongues wagging with her glitzy black outfit. Yellow, grey and black never looked so good until Mpumalanga’s top Sinelizwi performer Sharon Ndlovu wore it.
Plus, everyone was gushing over the outfits of Yamkela Welaphi from YehBaby Digital and Jo-Ann Prinsloo, a radio personality with Radio KC 107.7 FM.
There was not a dry eye in the room when Terri-Ann Brouwers, Jessica Isaacs and Busisiwe Mganxela took the podium. The three Sinelizwi graduates movingly shared the impact of the programme on their personal lives.
Brouwers was crowned as Sinelizwi Citizen Journalist of the Year – the biggest of all the prizes handed over during the event. She admitted that she doubtfully submitted her application, not realising that it would turn into a life-changing experience.
“This was all during a time that I was battling very bad depression and anxiety… When the names were released (of the candidates approved for the programme) it was on a day that I was having very bad suicidal thoughts,” said Brouwers, a journalism student from the Western Cape.
“I got the message and said, ‘Oh, my goodness.’ And I think that set the tone for how this programme saved me in my darkest moments for the next year.”
Meanwhile Mganxela, an Eastern Cape farmer and Sinelizwi’s top performer in the province, struggled to hold back the tears.
“We want to thank Sinelizwi for this marvellous programme. From March last year, just before lockdown, I could see a theme; a journey by train.
“And all those that are my age will know we had to write a composition like that at school and you had to hadn’t even travelled by train. But here (with Food For Mzansi) we experienced travelling…”
Also, Jessica Isaacs, a Cape Town mother and entrepreneur, said the Sinelizwi programme came at just the right time.
“The day that I had to apply I was on the way to buy groceries with my kids in the car. I thought, ‘They won’t take me.’ But I tried… I was praying, ‘God, I really want to do something else.”
Simanga Mhlope, KwaZulu-Natal’s top Sinelizwi performer, had the crowd in stitches when he shared his experience of the programme.
He said when people in Stanger, his hometown, heard that he was flying to Cape Town for the awards they had a very peculiar request.
“They asked me to come back with a wife,” he said. “So, if any of you ladies are doing nothing this coming weekend. Don’t worry. It’s already arranged.”
Mhlope, an author and award-winning radio personality, had high praise for Sinelizwi. “It really gave us everything a journalist should be and should not be. From understanding what is news, how to pick your sources, interviewing tips and everything in-between.”