Electricity supply cuts are common in South Africa and one of the factors that contributes to this is the theft of electricity supply facilities by community members.[1]  As society grapples for a solution to this problem, two 17-year-old boys from Middleburg in Mpumalanga have come up with a solution. This according to an article titled, “Innovative pupils develop tamper-proof meter boxes” (Sowetan, 06/09/2021) for which Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) awards a GLAD.[2] The GLAD is also awarded because the article celebrates the two boys’ achievement and interviews them.

The article by Yoliswa Sobuwa is about Kabelo Mamiane and Shaun Makhobo from Mpumalanga who received an award for the best innovation project in the Mpumalanga Eskom Expo for young Scientist 2021 for developing an “ultra-secure meter box that cannot be tampered with, thus reducing millions of rands in losses made by Eskom and municipalities due to bypassed systems”.

Speaking to the journalist about the innovation, Kabelo Maimane says in the article, “The idea came after our local municipality implemented weekly or monthly load-shedding, sometimes daily, making it impossible for us to do our school work at times. We then realised that the electricity blackouts were also as a result of neighbours, friends and family breaching the electricity meter box.”

This is an important recognition by the media as it shows the children involved in the story as active citizens who are capable of bringing a solution to the problems facing their community and nation as a whole. The article interviews both children and this is important because the story has been enriched with the children’s perspectives. Apart from the voices, the article comes with a photograph of the boys standing next to the innovation.

Usually, in these types of stories, the media focus on getting the opinions of teachers and parents at the expense of children. This article has gone against the norm and indicated that children can talk about their achievement themselves without having someone speak on their behalf.

MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media state, “Children have a right to have their views heard on matters that affect them, so the media should try and include them.”[3]

We commend the journalist for adhering to the Guidelines and speaking to the children. Well done! We hope that this will be a standard practice when reporting about children, especially when it is a positive story.   

Written by Ntsako Manganyi

Edited by Lister Namumba


[2] GLADs are awarded to media for reporting on children responsibly and for accessing them