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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

Vrye Weekblad makes a return

The brand will be limited to an online version, to be published by Tiso Blackstar next month.

Once a thorn in the flesh of the state for exposing death squads and a trail of other state-sponsored human rights abuses under apartheid, South Africa’s independent Afrikaans weekly Vrye Weekblad is set to return after an absence of over 25 years – with veteran journalist Max du Preez taking the reins as editor.

Immediately after news of the revival of the newspaper broke, with a photograph of a young Du Preez carrying a broadsheet copy in the Vrye Weekblad newsroom, Twitter went crazy yesterday with congratulatory messages pouring in.

Veteran writer and political commentator Du Preez tweeted that investigative journalist Jacques Pauw and author Anneliese Burgess would become co-editors in the revitalised Vrye Weekblad newspaper brand he said would “lean on a solid pool of writers and thinkers”.

Charles Leonard, who worked with Du Preez and Pauw, tweeted: “I cannot wait!”

“For decades now, Max and Pauw have consistently pursued corruption, bad governments, human rights abuses and other injustices.

“They haven’t changed at all. Far too many of my people haven’t changed either – stuck in the past. Welcome back Vrye Weekblad,” read another tweet.

Said another: “Do you and Jacques sit around the same fire?”

Media Monitoring Africa executive director William Bird described the move by Du Preez as “bold”, taking into account the adverse economic climate and the severe financial strain in which the media and several newspaper entities find themselves.

“But if there are people behind the rekindling of a new narrative, there is a need for it – especially if that meets the needs of diverse Afrikaans speakers.

“If they are also willing to put money behind the venture, they should be supported.

“Anyone who wants to put out credible news should be sustained,” maintained Bird.

Started in the 1980s by Du Preez, due to a frustration that the mainstream press lacked the courage to tackle the apartheid state head-on, Vyre Weekblad investigated and published stories which exposed the involvement of state entities in torture, assassinations and bomb attacks of those opposed to apartheid.

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