In our New Year’s Eve edition, the front page story told of a community in Athlone who stood up to a suspected drug merchant.
In their numbers, men, women and children marched on the notorious “White House” and stoned the property.
The occupants of the house slipped out and haven’t been seen since.
Now, good story or bad story (we prefer to treat it as just a news story), the Voice was once again accused of “glamourising gangsters”.
Not because the story was sympathetic to the suspected Americans mert, but simply because we reported on the so-called eviction.
What had happened was, on social media, we shared the front page early, as we do every morning, to show users what stories they can expect to read later in the day.
All they were given was the headline “Resident Evil” and a crowd picture, and already readers had made up their minds (without reading the article) that the Voice was calling the residents evil.
Some of the comments posted were: Voice is promoting/working for the gangs; Voice is owned by/on the payroll of dik dinge.
OK, some readers may just have been having a laugh in the comments section, because surely you can’t be that ignorant?
Another popular misconception is that Voice only reports on negative news.
So when Facebook users do react to a positive story (and we make sure to publish positive news every single day) some poephol will invariably comment, “Finally, some good news”, every single day. True story.
Anyway, everyone is entitled to share their own opinion and “rek their bekke” on our platforms, so go ahead.
Even more shocking was the reaction to Voice’s coverage of Rashied Staggie’s death and funeral.
Some readers got so worked up that they called for a boycott of the paper! Can you imagine?
What got people so upset was that we reported that:
1) The former gang leader got a “hero’s burial”.
Well, like it or not, he did. He was laid to rest in grand style, with a convoy of Range Rovers adorned with South African flags, and in an ornate coffin fit for royalty.
And like it or not, the procession with thousands of “mourners” resembled a state funeral, though make no mistake, it was “privately” sponsored.
At no point did the Voice label Staggie a hero.
Yet, was this not a burial befitting a hero?
The body wasn’t stuffed in a pine box and driven in a Toyota Quantum to a church service attended by 50 congregants.
That wouldn’t have been factual, or newsworthy.
2) By reporting on the death and funeral, Voice is supporting gangsters.
Nonsense. The man was shot dead in the street like a common skollie, with no regard for his status and notoriety.
There was nothing glamorous about his death. If anything, his execution should serve as a stern warning to others in the underworld.
Voice could not simply ignore the funeral. It would have been remiss to do so.
Any event on the Cape Flats that attracts thousands of people is newsworthy to the Voice.
Whether those “mourners” were Hard Livings, Staggie supporters, rivals or just nuuskierige agies, it’s hard to tell.
As journalists, our duty is to accurately reflect what is happening in our communities. As professionals, we have to take emotion out of it. That’s what we did.
Incidentally, on the same Saturday as the funeral, we covered the Hanover Park Street Festival, which was also attended by hundreds of people.
In the paper that Monday morning, the event was given a full page of coverage - the same as the funeral.
3) Voice reports on Staggie’s funeral, but doesn’t report on the funerals of innocent children killed by gangsters.
Nonsense. In that same paper, on the page right next to Staggie’s burial, we reported on the death of five-year-old Valentino Grootetjie, who was killed in a gang shooting in Lavender Hill.
Days later, we published an appeal for donations to pay for the little boy’s burial. We then covered the service, which was attended by the Voice and dignitaries such as Dan Plato and Bheki Cele.
The point Munier would like to make here is that you, the consumer, have the freedom to read what you like.
If you don’t want to know about Staggie’s funeral or other “negative” news in your community, fine. Skip to the Hanover Park Street Festival, or the Cape Flats soccer boy who is scoring goals overseas.
Or read another paper. Choice is yours.
But please don’t expect the Voice to be a good news gazette that only covers news that makes you happy, and ignores the reality of crime and gangs impacting our day-to-day lives.