My First Day at the Star


“Want to go to the Zuma trial?” asked Yvonne, a news editor at The Star, who I had just met. “Go with Demian but hurry up.”

I had been reading about former deputy president Jacob Zuma since the start of my 10-week prep course for my internship. I had seen pictures of, and read editorials and countless political cartoons about the man who was rumored to be the leading candidate for South Africa’s next president, but who is now taking the stand to defend himself against charges of raping an HIV-positive 31-year-old woman in his home last November.

This was the man who had been in charge of the South African National AIDS council, and who had exhorted the country to stand up and fight against the epidemic. The same man who now claims he took a shower to cleanse himself of HIV… what!?

After watching some of the shouting and protesting on the streets, another NU intern, Mike, and I walked through the court’s public entrance and went straight into the trial. This kind of thing would never have been allowed in the US – simply walking into a court room containnig the former deputy president! (Good thing we woke up at 6 am to get to work… yuck!)

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After a couple of hours of Zuma’s translated isiZulu testimony, much in-court chuckling and a ridiculous amount of sexual questioning, we decided to check out what was going on back outside. As we walked by a group of anti-rape protesters – mostly members of the One in Nine campaign (who claim that only one in every nine rape victims stands up and reports it) – I noticed a small group of young men. Young men protesting on behalf of women? Needless to say, my ears pricked up and we went over to interview them. Turns out, a group of 19-to-23-year-olds who play for the same soccer team skipped school to support the fight against rape.

Just another day in Joburg? I guess we’ll see.

  • For the next nine weeks I will be interning at The Star, as part of a required “Teaching Media” program at NU’s Medill School of Journalism. To complete a journalism degree at Medill, each student takes part in a 3-month internship program at a newspaper, magazine or broadcast outlet.
  • Follow my posts on SA Blog with the Shelly NU tag.