Award dedicated to Komani

The award winning photograph
Theodore Jephta

Komani-born photo journalist Theodore Jephta has scooped yet another prestigious national award.

Last week at The Venue in Melrose Arch in Johannesburg, he won best photo journalist award for his picture of a man throwing his daughter off the roof of a shack.

He said he was dedicating the award to where he came from.

Jephta’s first journalism job was as a freelancer at The Rep in 2000. “I would like to thank Sonja Raasch for the opportunity she gave me. They say experience is very important, but someone has to give you that first chance and she did that for me.

“After I had submitted my pictures for a while she said she felt bad that I wasn’t being paid. I told her that the feeling of opening the paper and finding my picture there was more than enough for me,” said Jephta.

Jephta said he was pleasantly surprised at winning the Sikuvile award. “After seeing all the photographs of the nominees on the screen, I was overwhelmed with emotions of gratitude.”

Jephta said he was pleasantly surprised at winning the Sikuvile award. “After seeing all the photographs of the nominees on the screen, I was overwhelmed with emotions of gratitude.”

He took the picture in 2018 during the evictions at the Joe Slovo informal settlement in Port Elizabeth. “It is not my own strength or talent but the Lord who did it.

There were many of us there that day. I was standing with two other great photo journalists, Verner Killes and Lulama Zenzile. Zenzile actually told me about the evictions.

I guess it was my instinct to just change direction and stand right in front of the father. It is the angle that separated us,” he said.

For the same picture, in 2018, he won journalist of the year, in the category of photography at the regional and national Vodacom awards. He also won a gold medal at the Moscow International Photo Awards, in the news editorial category.

The photo journo said although he was very appreciative about the day that propelled him to international recognition, it was the people who stood behind him that made it possible.

I can never tire of thanking Sonja (Raasch). I also remember a kitchen helper at the then Technikon Free State, my Alma Mater, who encouraged me not to quit as my parents had sacrificed a lot. I had been at school for only five days and I felt it was not working out.”

Jephta thanked his parents for their support and Alan Eason, picture editor at the Daily Dispatch, who he called ‘one of my biggest inspirations’.

“I also thank Lynn Williams, who was there to cover the story with me and Zenzile, a great photographer who has supported me,” he said.

Jephta is a decorated journalist, winning a number of awards. In 2010 he jointly won a CNN Multichoice African Journalist Award with Gcina Ntsaluba for an investigative journalism piece at the Daily Dispatch entitled Slum Lords.

Prior to that, also at the Dispatch, he and Thanduxolo Jika had won the Vodacom online national award for an investigate piece called ‘dying to live’ in which they documented xenophobic attacks.

Jephta studied at Louis Rex Primary School and then moved to Maria Louw for a year. He matriculated at Hangklip High School in 1999.

Leave a Reply