Tuesday, December 31, 2013

We wish our readership a prosperous 2014.....

Let's hope we can leave all the bad things behind us in 2014.........


Monday, December 30, 2013

Child murder accused case postponed

No fear No Favour No Child abuse or Murder and Rape........

National 30 December 2013   14:07

A man accused of killing a four-year-old girl in Brakpan, Gauteng, at the 
weekend appeared in the Brakpan Magistrate’s Court on Monday, a court 
official said.

The case against the 23-year-old man, who allegedly confessed to the crime, was 

until January 7, the official said.

“A missing person’s report was issued on Saturday morning and the police and the 

started looking [for the girl]. We had to do our own investigation,” police spokesman 

Tsekiso Mofokeng said earlier.

Police then interviewed the family.

“We identified that one of the family members did not give a confident story… 
He gave

 many versions.”

Mofokeng said the man was charged with kidnapping. Later “he gave
in and confessed”

and helped the police find the body underneath a bed in her father’s 
“We will hear from the post mortem what caused the death and 

there was sexual

assault,” said Mofokeng.
- Sapa



JOHANNESBURG – Police have confirmed that a four-year-old girl

has been found raped and murdered in Brakpan.
A group of volunteers helped the police to search for Jasmine Pretorius

shortly after she was reported missing on Saturday.
The girl's uncle has been arrested.
Within 24 hours, the team that was searching for Jasmine found her

raped and murdered under her own bed.
Missing Children SA’s Nicky Rheeder says a family member reported the

girl missing on Saturday.
“We got a couple of volunteers together and the police did their

investigation and we assisted with the search.”
The police’s Tsekiso Mofokeng says the child was found dead in her

grandmother and uncle’s house.
“The missing case was converted to a kidnapping, but after the uncle
was interviewed, the matter was converted to a murder case.”
The uncle will appear in court on Monday.








The people of Brakpan and South Africa want to draw blood

over  this latest CHILD MURDER!

Gordimer, misquoted: Red October columnist caught red-handed

No fear No Favour No Liberals please.........

Georgina Guedes  South Africa    1 November 2013 01:18

The Red October movement, which claims an Afrikaner genocide is happening right now in South Africa, support their claims with misinformation and statistics that have been proven to be false. By GEORGINA GUEDES.

“Afrikaner women are lower than rats, closer related to plants, just fit enough to be raped in an act of genus preservation.”
That’s pretty denigrating stuff. It strays dangerously close to hate speech. The person who wrote those words must have a deep and abiding hate of Afrikaners.
So who wrote them?
A search for the quotation turns up around 4 500 results on Google. The first two pages at least attribute them directly to Nobel Literature Prize winner, Nadine Gordimer. Many of the pages express outrage that they spring from the very works for which she has been globally recognised as an intellectual leader.
One of the sites uses the quotation as a justification for rampant anti-Semitism.
And the quote has made its most recent appearance in a column published on Praag.co.za, a self-styled pro-Afrikaans online newspaper that claims, “breaking news, bold views”.
The piece was written by “conservative columnist” Albert Brenner, in response to columns written by Chris McEvoyNicky FalkoffGeorgina Guedes (that’s me) and most notably Sarah Britten, that were critical of the claims of Afrikaner genocide that prompted the Red October march on October 10 this year.
The four columnists had all written pieces that acknowledged that crime is a serious problem in South Africa, but that it is a problem that affects all of us, and is certainly not symptomatic of a targeted eradication of the Afrikaner race.
Brenner’s response was that all our commentary - and Britten’s in particular - was the result of being “part and parcel of the upper-class British establishment in Mandelatopia.” He then proceeds to layer straw man upon straw man, by quoting Cecil John Rhodes and then Gordimer as examples of indifference to the plight of the Afrikaner, as evidence of how Britten must think.
Here is Gordimer’s full quote in context. Pay attention to how it is presented, because this becomes important later:
“And this indifference is still very much present in modern South Africa. Just listen to Nobel Prize winner Nadine Gordimer - a representative of the British elite in this country: Afrikaner women are lower than rats, closer related to plants, just fit enough to be raped in an act of genus preservation.”
(As an aside, it is very convenient that Gordimer’s mixed British-Jewish and Latvian-Jewish ancestry makes her a target for both the anti-British and the anti-Semitic movements in South Africa.)
While we needn’t spend too much time picking apart the fallacy that because English-Latvian-Jewish Gordimer said it, Cornish-Scottish-English-French-Afrikaans Britten must think it, it’s the appearance of this hateful quote, yet again, that must be examined.
When I first read it, I found it unlikely to be something that Gordimer would have said, so I did a Google search. The 4 500 results I’ve already mentioned came up, confirming time and again that this writer and activist was indeed the originator of the quote.
However, in all the cases that I uncovered, the quote was being used by angry Afrikaners as evidence against Jews, the English or Gordimer in particular, and provided no context or background.
I asked Brenner himself on Twitter for the source of his quotation, and was provided only with a clue: “48”. I did some further digging, and with the help of various members of the South African Freelancers Association (Safrea), I uncovered an open letter from Dan Roodt, Afrikaner activist and writer, to Gordimer, which contained the quote.
And here’s where the story gets interesting. The quote is not by Gordimer. It is in fact by Roodt himself, paraphrasing something that he believes Gordimer meant - but certainly never said – in her book, ‘The Conservationist.
Here is an excerpt from Roodt’s letter:
“In your novel, the De Beers have come to visit the city man, the Engelsman Mehring, on his farm to borrow his bakkie and what follows is a description of the whole family: father, son, daughter-in-law, teenage girl and child, all very backward, diffident, crude, unused to furniture or civilised conversation, for ‘they are people who won’t dispose themselves about a room until you tell them to’ and they ‘look ... round at the chair seats before placing their backsides, as if they’re afraid of sitting on something or doing some damage.’
“For ‘they’ here we can probably read not only the De Beer family, but Afrikanerdom tout court, the ‘Effwikaanuhs’ as our state television currently calls them. We are here in the realm of the STEREOTYPE on the scale of a Nazi gathering with all those Engelse shouting Sieg Heil! or Kill the rocks! or whatever they shout in their moments of inner concord on who exactly happens to be the master race. It gets worse.
“The Nazis only compared Jews to rats that are after all mammals and some sympathy between creatures of the same genus may be assumed.
“In Gordimer’s view, Afrikaner women are a lot lower down the evolutionary scale than rats; they are more like plants fit only to be raped in an act of genus domination.”
There’s the quote, right there. It is Dan Roodt’s paraphrase, based on his assumption that because Gordimer describes one Afrikaner family in negative terms, she must think similarly about the entire race.
Brenner’s hint, “48” is verified by the open letter, because the part of Gordimer’s The Conversationalist in which the De Beers appear is on page 48.
Brenner, when challenged on Twitter, acknowledged that the words were written by Roodt, but that, “Artistic interpretation of texts is a common practice.”
When confronted with the accusation that the quote was deliberately misleading, Brenner responded that as no quotation marks nor the verb “quote”, had been used, it was not a direct quote. He further stated that because he had not instructed the reader to listen to her actual words, he only meant for us to listen to her thoughts, as paraphrased by Roodt.
In reality, no reader in their right mind would believe that the entreaty, “listen to”, followed by a colon, did anything other than suggest that a direct quote was to follow, quotation marks notwithstanding.
In addition, Brenner stated that he used Roodt’s words with his permission and that he edited his article. “I used his words with his permission. Big difference. Besides, he edits all my pieces before publication. This one included:)”
This allows it to be fairly assumed that Roodt, who must be aware of the provenance of that quote, is very happy to have it circulated in a way that implies (if not outright states) that it is made by Gordimer.
While I was trying to get to the bottom of Brenner’s use of the quote in our Twitter conversation, he twice responded with tweets like this one:
“Hmm..I wonder if some poor farmer is being tortured right now? Oops, sorry Georgina... you were saying?”
His point being, as I understand it, that while I was waffling on about insignificant matters, I was keeping him from his very important work of tallying the Afrikaner genocide. But this actually brings us to the very crux of the matter. The very genocide that he’s publicising and speaking out against is based on the propagation of incorrect facts, wild assumptions and the deliberate spreading of misinformation.
If you haven’t already seen it, Nechama Brodie has done an excellent jobon Africa Check of debunking the statistics circulated by Afrikaner musician and activist Steve Hofmeyr, ultimately building the argument upon which the Red October movement was founded. In a concluding note, the Africa Check editors wrote: “The sooner we all understand the reality of crime as it affects all individuals, the better that those living in South Africa will be able to engage with, participate or lobby for initiatives aimed at addressing the very real problems that do exist, and that affect individuals from every community. Crime touches all of us, irrespective of race.”
Dan Roodt, when asked about the misuse of his own quotation, had the following to say: “I think Albert Brenner should have mentioned that I was the author of those words, being an interpretation of the narrator's view of Afrikaners in the Gordimer novel, The Conservationist. The quotation comes from a piece I wrote on LitNet in 1999 or thereabouts.
“The lack of clarification may have been a problem, but then so is the bad faith with which Afrikaners are usually described in South African and British English, and which goes right back to the British missionaries of the early nineteenth century. There was also Sir Percy Fitzpatrick's The Transvaal from within and many other works of the same kind.
“I have read many of Gordimer's early novels and sometimes she just breaks off in tirades against the National Party government, hardly respecting literary conventions.
“So one must see Brenner's remarks within the context of an ongoing semantic war between indigenous whites and what I would call the comprador intelligentsia like Gordimer, the Slovos, but also many academics from Wits, UCT and other campuses. Lately, these people have also colonised the Afrikaans campuses so it has really intensified.”
Brenner responded only, “You can kiss my sexy Boere butt.”
While Brenner may be dismissive of and Roodt may justify the misuse of a quotation that any reasonable reader would believe to have been made by Nadine Gordimer, it is the misrepresentations of the Red October movement – the deliberate circulation of a single quote attributed to the wrong person, or the publication of false statistics – that fatally dilute their claims and lose them any residual sympathy. DM



Misquoted, misguided or Miscontrued - Communists most famous Quotes....!

If this is how Nadine Gordimer thinks of Afrikaner women, then, it is plausible to accept

what Adolf Hilter thought of Jewish Whores!

The Rats of European society and South African refugees.

Under her skin: The paradoxical world of Doris Lessing

No Fear No Favour No undue influence please......

Maureen Isaacson  South Africa 19 November 2013  02:24

Doris Lessing published over 50 books, fighting in her work for freedom from oppression, categorisation and compartmentalisation. Her death, at the age of 94, leaves an absence of one of Southern Africa’s great voices – but also one of its great personalities. By MAUREEN ISAACSON.

Doris Lessing’s death at 94 this week brought a rush of memories as her famous response to the newspaper reporters waiting to inform her of the news that she had won the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature outside her house in North London was repeatedly recalled. "Oh Christ!" she said.
Elsewhere the news hit like a slap with a damp rag. Among writers who had braved choppy currents to write what they liked, like Philip Roth, like Salman Rushdie, were those habitually tipped to win that year and habitually also tipped to be snubbed. Doris Lessing’s name did not really crop up on the lists of those who were hoping an African writer would win the prize that year.
The 1986 Nigerian laureate, Wole Soyinka, told me in an interview for the South African Sunday Independent in 1995, “If you have a social conscience, you are no longer satisfied with explaining the misery, you are feeding on rags and lice and sores. As a citizen you are compelled to eliminate even that material on which your work thrives.” It was not as if Lessing’s conscience had deserted its moorings, but her novels had exchanged the realistic Southern African landscape for the indeterminate space of fiction that did not directly endorse the struggle on this side of the world.
When she died on Sunday, Nadine Gordimer, the first South African Nobel literature laureate who in 1991 became the first woman to win the prize after 27 years, said she had “lost a comrade writer”, recalling that she and Doris Lessing had been “discovered” by Amelia Levy, who published their short stories in a local journal, Jewish and Christian Thought - though this applied to neither writer - some six decades ago.
The 2006 laureate, Orhan Pamuk, the Turkish novelist, brought to the attention of the world the issue of press freedom and the trial he faced for speaking out against Turkey's denial of the Armenian massacre. Harold Pinter, who won the prize the previous year, spoke volubly against the war in Iraq.
What would Doris Lessing speak about, I wondered. The platform provided by the Nobel Prize had unparalleled stature. Gordimer has frequently quoted the 1957 French Algerian laureate Albert Camus: “From the moment that I am no more than a writer, I shall cease to write.” And since JM Coetzee became the second South African Nobel laureate in 2003, it may be some years before it came around again, we thought. Among African writers tipped to win were the Nigerian, Chinua Achebe, the Kenyan, Ngugi wa Thiong’o and the Somalian, Nurudin Farah. In South Africa, surely Zakes Mda, in whose burgeoning body of work magical realism and social realism collide to tell the compelling South African story, was deserving too.
But because Lessing had broken bounds, it did not mean she had lost the plot. A novel, Alfred and Emily, not yet published at the time of her Nobel award announcement, is an indictment of war. She had said it draws on the experience of her own parents during the Second World War.
When Lessing came to South Africa in 1995 to promote Under the Skin, the first volume of her autobiography, she spoke in an interview about her parents. Her mother, Emily Maude Taylor, was a nurse during the war and the man she loved had drowned in a torpedoed ship. She married Alfred Cook Taylor, a bank official, a captain in the British army during the First World War, left shell-shocked, his shrapnel-scarred stump itching in the bucket of a wooden leg.
Doris Lessing was born Doris May Taylor in 1919 in Kermanshah in Persia (now Bakhtaran in Iran). In 1925, the family moved to a farm in then Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. From the age of five, her home, “that emotional wasteland”, was to be a thatched roof and house furnished with paraffin crates and Liberty curtains.
She was packed off to boarding school at seven and at 14 she dropped out and took a string of mindless jobs. Under My Skin offered window on her earlier, rebellious and sometimes cruel and arrogant selves. In her seventies, when I interviewed her, she was yet to lay the ghosts of her past to rest. She spoke about her troubled relationship with her mother, her rebellion, which was not inconsiderable; the rage that had caused her to burn down the dog’s shelter and inadvertently, the storeroom, also ignited her great refusal: “I will not” was her biographical leitmotif. She spoke too about her failed marriages. Her first, at 19, was to Frank Charles Wisdom; it yielded a son, John, and a daughter, Jean. She left him with their small children and “a revolutionary romanticism” had her bumbling into a second marriage, to Gottfried Lessing, a German-Jewish immigrant, and a Marxist. She became involved with the Labour Party in Southern Rhodesia. With Gottfried, she had a son, Peter, whom she took with her to London when they divorced. She had fallen out of love with Gottfried and after a spell of serving the British Communist Party she fell out of love with communism.
In our interview she plotted a graph of her life, which had been rich and rewarding albeit its trials. By 1995, she had won most of the big literary prizes but she did not foresee such acclaim. Our own relationship had got off to a rocky start. Reading my appreciative review of Under My Skin, which also pointed to some of its contradictions, she asked, “Was there nothing else you could say?” But we got past this hurdle and into the easier terrain suggested by the title she had cadged from Cole Porter.
She was a young woman “sensitised by music… a young woman in love with her own body.” The world and its music had induced a romantic longing but it had broken its promises. She talked about her routine daily writing at 9am, the young friends with whom she walked on Hampstead Heath, close to her home, and her engagement with Sufism.
She opened up generously and she left me inspired, encouraged and richer for this encounter.
Lessing said if she had stayed in Southern Africa, she would not have explored her imagination beyond the realism she described in her earlier works. She said her subject would have chosen her.
When her Nobel laureateship was announced, I worried that the keen political interest and engagement with the world that made her early novels so compelling, had been replaced by less vital works of science fiction.
She would have disagreed. In our interview she reacted to the notion that science fiction and space fiction shy away from socio-political criticism. In the preface to the Doris Lessing Reader (1989), she wrote that the divisions between realistic and imaginative writing were exaggerated.
"I am damned if I can see much difference between some parts of The Grass is Singing (1950), my first novel, and some parts of Shikasta (1979)". Shikasta, a planet, has suffered the ravages of colonialism and white supremacy. The Grass is Singing, about the murder of a white farmer's wife, and her relationship with a black servant, deals penetratingly with similar themes.
Lessing wrote in the same introduction that every writer carries "a cargo of characters, impressions and ideas and although these modify and develop and change, seldom does anything new come in".
The Swedish Academy citation described Lessing as "that epicist of the female experience, who with skepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny".
The Golden Notebook (1962) was seized by the feminist movement as a primer for women, although it dealt with contemporary issues. In a 2006 interview, Lessing said that the book had come out of turmoil in her own life and that she had not intended to make any feminist statements.
Unlike VS Naipaul, whose 2001 Nobel Prize baffled critics of his recalcitrant politics and triggered questions about whether ugly people writing beautifully were deserving of such acclaim, Lessing was a safe choice. For some, she was too safe. Harold Bloom, the American critic, said the choice was "pure political correctness". The “Canopus in Argos” series, which began with “Re: Colonized Planet 5, Shikasta” in 1979, came as a surprise, leaving fans of Lessing’s realism bereft.  Philip Glass turned two novels from this series, The Making of the Representative for Planet 8, into an opera, as well as turning The Marriages between Zones Three, Four and Five into operas.
Lessing published over 50 books, and in her work she fought for freedom, of women and people oppressed everywhere as she asserted her right to change and against all kinds of boxing and what she called compartmentalisation, of thought and articulation.
Per Wästberg, the chair of the Nobel Literature Committee, stressed that the committee does not in its choice of laureates favour any one country. “I must strongly emphasise that according to rules we do not care for any nation or any one part of world, and are not influenced by gender, sex, religion, whatever.”
This does not mean our disappointment that there were more compelling and exciting voices than Lessing’s telling the stories of the continent in 2007 makes us parochial. Nor does it detract from the considerable mark she has left. DM
Photo: Doris Lessing waits to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature at the Wallace Collection in London January 30, 2008. REUTERS/Toby Melville



If you don't record your history then the "Victors" write their own!

The truth is often blotted our by conspiracy!!

The life of another Liberal, from Communism to exploitation to feminism.

Or was she another visionary?

South Sudan forces battle "White Army"

No fear No Favour No Foreign Battles fought by South Africans in Africa.........


South Sudan's army fought on Sunday with "White Army" ethnic militia, accusing rebels of mobilising the force despite its offer of a truce to end the conflict in the new country. By Carl Odera and Aaron Maasho.

Two weeks of fighting have left at least 1,000 dead and split the oil-producing country barely two years after it won independence from Sudan. It has also raised fears of an all-out civil war between the main Dinka and Nuer ethnic groups which could destabilise fragile East Africa.
The feared White Army - made up largely of Nuer youths who dust their bodies with ash - clashed with government troops 18 miles from the town of Bor five days after rebels were driven out, Information Minister Michael Makuei said.
A rebel spokesman denied the White Army was controlled by Riek Machar, a Nuer, the former vice president whose followers oppose President Salva Kiir, a Dinka.
Makuei told Reuters on Sunday the White Army militia had dwindled in numbers - from estimated 25,000 strong - after Nuer politicians and tribal elders persuaded them to abandoned their march on Bor.
"About 5,000 refused to abandon the march and they have proceeded with their advance on Bor. They then dislodged (government troops) from Mathiang, about 18 miles from Bor," Makuei said by phone from South Sudan's capital, Juba, 190 km (120 miles) south of Bor by road.
The White Army are recognised by the ash, prepared from burnt cow dung, with which they cover themselves to ward off insects. They are armed with machetes, sticks and guns.
Rebel spokesman Moses Ruai Lat said that rather than being under Machar's control, the armed Nuer youth were an "independently organised force".
Army spokesman Philip Aguer said the rebels were mobilising youths and armed civilians for another attack on Malakal, the capital of the oil-producing Upper Nile state. Rebels were pushed out of the town on Friday.
Toby Lanzer, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, told Reuters by phone from Malakal that about 25,000 people are seeking refuge in the town's U.N. base. He said streets were empty and the town's busy market had been looted.
"There is palpable sense of fear among people who have either lost everything or been caught in the crossfire, or who simply don't feel safe enough to be home," Lanzer said, adding that the U.N. estimates at least 180,000 people have been displaced during the 15 days of fighting in South Sudan.
The United Nations said the involvement of the White Army brought another volatile ingredient.
"South Sudan does not need another escalation of the crisis involving armed youth, pitching communities against communities. This can end in a vicious cycle of violence," U.N. Special Representative of the Secretary General Hilde Johnson, said in a statement.
Machar made no immediate comment on the rebel force or on the government's offer of a ceasefire on Friday.
Witnesses spoke of panicked civilians fleeing Bor to escape another round of bloodletting.
The scene of a massacre of Dinka in 1991 by Nuer fighters loyal to Machar, Bor was retaken by government troops last Tuesday after several days of heavy fighting.
If there were a repeat of the tactics of 1991, "nothing will prevent devastation", Aguer said, appealing to Machar to stop the youths.
A U.N. helicopter spotted a group of armed youths 50 km (30 miles) from Bor but could not confirm their numbers.
The army said rebels also advanced on Sunday to seize Mayom, a strategic town some 90 km (55 miles) from Unity state capital Bentiu, the main rebel stronghold.
Among the civilians trying to escape Bor was Juuk Mading.
"We are very scared," Mading, a father of four, said from a crowded river jetty as he waited in the fierce heat for a boat to cross the White Nile river to a neighbouring state.
Some 60,000 people are seeking refuge in U.N. bases across South Sudan.
As well as offering a truce, President Kiir's government said it would release eight of 11 senior politicians, widely seen to be Machar allies, arrested over an alleged coup plot against Kiir. DM
Photo: South Sudan army soldiers hold their weapons as they ride on a truck in Bor, 180 km (108 miles) northwest from capital Juba December 25, 2013. South Sudanese troops have retaken the flashpoint town of Bor in Jonglei state, a week after the town fell to rebels loyal to rebel leader Riek Machar. REUTERS/James Akena






Molhem Barakat: Death of a teenage lensman raises ethical concerns of war photography

No Fear No Favour No Suicide Bombers...........

GREG MARINOVICH  South Africa 30 December 2013  10:23

Molhem Barakat almost became a suicide bomber but decided he loved photography more. Barakat was only a teenager when he lost his life in yet another incident in the deadly Syrian war which has ratcheted up 2013’s journalistic fatalities to around 75. GREG MARINOVICH pays tribute to a boy who died telling the story of his country at war.

I heard of yet another death of a journalist in Syria’s civil war recently, via a tweet featuring a surreal image: a pair of bloodied cameras on a rough wood table, along with pita bread, a plastic water bottle-top and a container of what might be hummus.
This symbolic image of a war photographer’s death was perhaps inspired by memories of photographs from previous eras, such as the fallen soldier’s helmet atop his rifle marking a grave in an otherwise unremarkable field in an unexceptional corner of a remote land.
The iconography of death and its protagonists has ranged from fighters and civilians to those who make the images. Perhaps the most haunting of the last category is Henri Huet’s image of a priest administering the last rites over Dickey Chapelle in Vietnam.
The image of Molhem Barakat’s cameras nearly fifty years later during yet another deadly incident in Syria’s civil war ratcheted up 2013’s journalistic fatality toll to 75, according to Reporters Sans Frontiers, or 67 according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Either number is disturbing, as are the supplementary figures by RSF that 37 'netizens', or citizen journalists, and four ‘media assistants’ were also killed. The CPJ does not mention this category, sticking to professional journalists only.
In Syria, citizen journalists, or people affiliated with any of the several armed forces at war there, provide a fair amount of the visuals that are seen by the outside world, especially on television, usually with the disclaimer that the footage has not been verified.
The late Molhem Barakat is someone whom one might find quite difficult to pigeonhole between these two documenters of conflict, falling somewhere between activist/propagandist and photojournalist.
Photo: Free Syrian army members remove a body from rubbles from damage caused by what activists said was an airstrike with explosive barrels by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Al-Shaar area in Aleppo December 17, 2013. REUTERS/Molhem Barakat
By the account of a foreign journalist who befriended him, Molhem (called Youssef in the story to protect him) was a kid coming of age just as his country disintegrated into civil war. He was no village boy, but a teen living in Aleppo, the commercial hub of Syria, a city that has become the epicentre of the war.
Hannah Lucinda Smith describes him as a warm, lively boy who wore Gucci shirts and jeans. Shortly after he turned 18 (if the age on his Facebook page is correct - more on this later) he put his name down on a list of those trying to join the Al Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front as a suicide bomber.
Yet somehow, instead of blowing himself up, Molhem began to submit pictures to Reuters. This is not that unusual, as news agencies have for decades recruited or taken on eager local citizens who show an aptitude for news gathering.
Many senior people now working for news organisations started out that way. I got my break into photojournalism with the Associated Press by showing up at their offices in Johannesburg with images of a man being killed in Soweto. The bureau chief asked me to shoot for them the next day, and thus began a long relationship with the AP.
But I was not a teenager.
An acclaimed news photographer and photo manager for the Middle East & North Africa, Patrick Baz, now with Agence France-Presse, was just twelve when war broke out in Lebanon in 1975. He lived near the Green Line that divided warring Christians and Moslems, and began photographing the conflict in the Eighties, “I was a teen when I started, but I was paid more than that ;-)” he responded in an email to a query about Molhem and the Reuters freelance pay scale.
Baz himself does not procure images from youngsters, “I don’t work with teenagers in Syria.” He collaborated with the Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) to introduce and train fifteen Syrians to photojournalism.
One was killed, one is kidnapped by Islamists, two fled from Islamists to Turkey and many others stopped working or just vanished. Syria is a black hole. We pay our guys every month in Turkey but we have no control over what they do. We can't get in touch with them, they send their pix send emails or Skype whenever they have power and Internet.”
Photo: Residents look for survivors through damage by what activists said was an airstrike with explosive barrels from forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Al-Shaar area in Aleppo December 17, 2013. REUTERS/Molhem Barakat
Circumstance and the siren call of adventure have seduced many young people to war, some as participants, others as witnesses. As the West considers the use of child soldiers a crime, one would expect that Western international organisations would refrain from using teenagers to cover wars. Most of those youngsters learnt the ways of journalism from colleagues.
Today, in Syria there are few professionally trained journalists operating. One wonders where someone like Molhem would be able to pick up on the basics of journalism? Did Reuters put him on a training course? That is doubtful, even though he claimed he works for Reuters on his Facebook page, Reuters have said their only relationship was that they bought images on ‘an ad hoc basis’ from him.
Reuters have been careful, in the media, to keep their relationship from Molhem as distant as possible. Yet they began accepting images from him back in May of 2013, and even supplied him with top of the range equipment, as seen in the images of his cameras after his death, and confirmed by a photographer who knew him. That speaks of more than just an ‘ad hoc’ relationship; rather it speaks of someone who is freelancing regularly with an organisation – what we might call a stringer, even if he had no retainer.
Once a news organisation stops warning us that images are the unverified work of unknown activists or even combatants from locations they are unable to confirm, and begin to put a name to photographs, then the agency is putting its stamp of authenticity on the image and its caption. We, the readers, are being told the caption is correct, the image is not a fabricated in post-production and nor has the original scene been somehow manipulated.
Molhem Barakat’s photographs were vouchsafed by Reuters as being accurate; that they did not breach any journalistic ethics. Once his images began to move on the Reuters wire with his name, one of the world’s news giants was saying that the work was journalistically trustworthy.
None of Reuters’ clients who used Molhem’s images knew anything of his political and family history. I guess they did not know he was just a teenager either.
Syria has seen more than 52 journalists killed, and 30 kidnapped during the civil war. Syria is the second most dangerous conflict ever for journalists, just after Iraq, and equal to Algeria. Non-professional images will continue to be in demand, as most international organisations have ceased sending in their own people, with good reason.
Reuters gave Molhem the opportunity to tell the story of his country at war, to be a voice for his townsfolk and family. Perhaps they averted him from becoming inevitably sucked into the fray as a combatant. Yet even as his age must raise issues about corporate responsibility, there are even larger questions to answer. Why it is okay to risk the life of a ‘local’ in a desperately dangerous war-zone, when you are unwilling to send in someone that you are legally responsible for?
Photo: A Free Syrian Army fighter poses with a plate of food in Old Aleppo, December 14, 2013. REUTERS/Molhem Barakat
Is there any insurance plan for freelancers around the world? If Molhem were seriously wounded, how would he be evacuated to proper health facilities? Of course, the risks is increased for local journalists, as they cannot come and go at will; they cannot leave for a break when they are mentally or emotionally exhausted, when their gut tells them it is time to leave.
There are clearly different standards for them, and us, it would seem. This also raises another ugly issue, that of equitable remuneration. Molhem was being paid between $50 and $100 for up to ten images accepted by the agency on any one day, according to Corey Pein. There was a bonus if any of his photographs received special acclaim.
On the other side of the globe there is another freelancer, in an African country that was recently at war, who was paid just $50 for all the images that Reuters accepted for the day.
Other agencies have a different payment scale: such as if the first image accepted was $50, if a second was accepted, it went up to $100, and if more, it became a ‘day rate’ at $150.
If the photographs are good enough to go on the Reuters wire, or be moved by Getty, Corbis, AP, AFP, etc., then why are there differentials in pay? I have yet to see a disclaimer in the caption warning the readers that this is a cheaper (inferior?) image.
Looking at the edited highlights of Molhem’s photographs that were put on the wire by Reuters, there is something naggingly disturbing about some of them. I have run offices and field desks in various conflict zones from Croatia, Bosnia and Jerusalem to Zaïre. I have bought in many images from freelancers, some of them professional, some not so much. On of my main concerns was trying to discern if the scenes had been stage-managed - critical in ensuring that dishonest images do not get out to the world.
Molhem was definitely a very good young photographer, some of his images are hauntingly beautiful; but others raise red flags. They looked either suicidally brave or were ‘managed’. I would be very curious to see what images did not make the wire.
It would be unexpected if journalistic integrity were his guiding light. Where would Molhem have received training, or exposure, to a world that values objectivity over subjectivity? He and his family were a part of the conflict - his older brother was a fighter in the Free Syrian Army and was killed alongside him during the battle for the Kindi hospital. Molhem had previously told Smith that his grandfather and uncle had been killed by the Al-Assad regime because of their support for the opposition.
Molhem Barakat’s death is a tragedy, among many, in an appalling war. Yet it gives us pause to reflect on journalism, especially journalism of the image.
The media houses should to be more ethical, fairer, in how they treat local hires and freelancers, especially in war zones.
We talk of blood diamonds and have refused to wear running shoes stitched by exploited, underage labour; yet we are content to consume images made by teenagers who are paid peanuts. DM
Photo: Syrian activist and photographer Molhem Barakat poses at an undisclosed location in this recent picture taken in November 2013. Barakat died on December 20, 2013, as he took photographs of a battle over Kindi Hospital in Aleppo, between rebels and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He had been taking pictures for Reuters on a freelance basis since May this year. Picture taken in November 2013. REUTERS/Stringer



A FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHER is like a MERCENARY - You work for the highest bidder!

No pension, no health policy or fringe benefits.

You get paid when the money is available or laundered in time for payment.

You never expect miracles!