Journalist trained by Mzilikazi wa Afrika to release own book

He was only an 18-year-old boy who wished to work for media houses when he fell into the tender hands of the powerful Sunday Times journalist.


City Press journalist Sizwe Sama Yende is set to release his own book.

The tell-all memoir details an incident in August 2010 wherein Sama Yende escaped an attack by a gun-wielding hired assassin at his Mbombela home.

The book, called ‘Eerie Assignment’, will be in bookshelves by the end of May 2017.

Sama Yende has been a thorn in the back of politicians in hostile Mpumalanga, bravely exposing their shenanigans in the Media24-owned Sunday newspaper.

On the Friday night of 4 August 2010, Sama Yende had just arrived home when an armed man pounced on him after he had entered the gate.

He had been meeting sources for a story he was working on.

On the particular Friday night, after having opened the door and was about to close the sliding door, he saw the man walking hurriedly towards him. The man said (in a low voice) to Sama Yende: ‘stop what you’re doing, do not close the door’.

The man was carrying a gun however Sama Yende managed to close the door quickly and lift the handle to lock it. The man tried to open the door but fled when the alarm started ringing after Sama Yende had sprinted to activate it.

He says the book details this drama and the assignment he was writing before this occurred.

Sama Yende is a protégé of influential investigative South African journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika.

He is that ‘scrawny’ 18-year-old boy Wa Afrika met in Daggakraal while was working for African Eye News Service and had been covering the late President Nelson Mandela who had come to visit that area in 1997.

Journalist trained by Mzilikazi wa Afrika to release own book

Book cover, Eerie Assignment. Lesedi House

In chaper 10 of Nothing Left to Steal, Wa Afrika says of Sama Yende:

“To my surprise, the young man, full of shyness and speaking with his right hand on his mouth, said: ‘I want to be a journalist like you’. I spoke to the teenager for about 15 minutes and I realised that although he was 18 years old he had an extraordinary agility of mind and passion for journalism. He was a local Daggakraal boy”.

Three weeks later Wa Afrika introduced the young man to AENS boss Justin Arenstein who accepted the him on the condition that Wa Afrika was prepared to train and mentor him, which he agreed he would do and did.

Journalist trained by Mzilikazi wa Afrika to release own book

Sunday Times Investigative Journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika. PICTURE BY

Sama Yende since then worked for the African Eye News Service for 9 years, starting from that week in 1997.

In 2004, Sama Yende left AENS to go work for the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research but then returned to AENS in 2005 before becoming City Press’s Limpopo bureau chief in 2006.

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Sama Yende also had a stint with the Sekhukhune district municipality in Limpopo, working as a media officer, a position he held for three years until he returned to City Press, this time becoming its Mpumalanga bureau chief, a position he currently holds.

He told 013NEWS: “Eerie Assignment is a memoir centred on that incident”.

“In 2010 I was accosted by a gun-toting person one night, my car brakes were tempered with and was being constantly attacked verbally and on Facebook about my reporting.

“I however dealt with the politics of Mpumalanga and tried to make sense of why the environment has been hostile and toxic to all of us – politicians, journalists, civil servants, businesspeople and ordinary citizens,” he said.

“It is about the pain we have all gone through,” he added.

Mzilikazi wa Afrika contributed the foreword to Eerie Assignment  and in Sama Yende’s words; “it is incidentally an extension of his memoir – Nothing Left to Steal“.

(edited by ZK)

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