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Angolan journalist Rafael Maques bags World Press Freedom award.

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Angolan journalist Rafael Marques has won a top press freedom award for braving decades of government harassment in his quest to fight corruption through journalism.

The journalist who has been jailed in the past for reporting on the plunder of Angola’s natural resources, was named ‘World Press Freedom Hero’ by the International Press Institute (IPI).



IPI’s World Press Freedom Hero award honours journalists who have made significant contributions to the promotion of press freedom, particularly in the face of great personal risk.

The award will be presented to Marques on June 22 in Abuja, Nigeria at the IPI’s annual World Congress and General Assembly. IPI will also present the 2018 Free Media Pioneer Award to Philippine news website Rappler.

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Marques started his journalism career reporting for state-owned newspaper Jornal de Angola in 1992, but he was soon fired after failing to favorably report on the government as expected.

In 2008, after years of writing for independent outlets in Angola and authoring numerous reports on human rights violations, Marques founded the watchdog website Maka Angola, which provides investigative coverage of corruption involving top Angolan political, business and military leaders.

His reports which have often called out former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos and his cronies for corruption, incompetence and sabotage of the national economy have earned Marques persecution and harassment.

In 1999, he was arrested and charged with defamation after describing president dos Santos as a dictator. He spent 43 days in pre-trial detention before being convicted and given a six-month prison term in March 2000. Angola’s Supreme Court later reduced the penalty to a suspended sentence.

IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi hailed Marques for his dedication to pursuing truth at all costs.

“Despite Angola’s systematic repression of independent media, Rafael Marques has managed, at great personal risk, to bravely and persistently shine a light on abuse of power at the highest levels”, she said.

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Motherland News

Families Identify Church Collapse Victims in Anguish

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Tears and anguish characterized the atmosphere as the grieving families of 13 worshipers killed in a church collapse arrived at the Richards Bay mortuary to identify the bodies of their loved ones.

The worshipers died when a wall collapsed at the Pentecostal Holiness Church near Empangeni in northern KwaZulu-Natal last Thursday night.

The KwaZulu-Natal Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department co-ordinated with various departments including health, home affairs and the police, to assist in speeding up the body identification process.

Six worshippers were from Ulundi, four from eSikhawini and three from Maqwakazi in uMlalazi.

Describing the collapse, Phumelele Simelane from eSikhawini said worshippers had just had their evening meal and were preparing to sleep when the wall caved in.

Simelane was with her 6-year-old son, who is recovering in hospital. She said she came to the mortuary to support congregants whose relatives died.

The Mthembu family, who lost grandmother Thembi Mthabela, 54, and Andiswa Mthembu, 10, in the tragedy were overcome with grief.

“Thembi loved going to church and she always took Andiswa with her. Andiswa was doing Grade 3 at Nyathini Primary School. As a family, we are very traumatised and it is hard for us,” said a relative, who did not wanted to be named.

Buhle Mzila, whose sister Samke, 33, died, said the family had lost a breadwinner.

Samke, who worked at the Ulundi Municipality, was with her 9-year-old daughter during the incident.

Buhle said her niece, who was in hospital, was in a state of shock about her mother’s death.

“Samke loved the church, she always made sure she attended every service. She played a big role in terms of assisting the family. We are still going to feel her absence,” said Buhle.

A sobbing Mbongeni Langa said his mother had died in a “place she loved”.

The memorial service will be held tomorrow

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Motherland News

CAF Sidelines Nigerian Centre Referees for 2019 AFCON

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Out of the Twenty-seven centre referees penciled down for the 2019 African Cup of Nations, countries like Burundi, Mali, Zambia and Sudan are represented on the list, but no Nigerian referee was selected for the big occasions.

However, only one assistant referee from Nigeria named Baba Adel was listed among the twenty-nine assistant referees selected by the African Football Governing Body.

The competition will be held from 21 June to 19 July 2019, as per the decision of the CAF Executive Committee on 20 July 2017.

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