1998 • Journalism and Media Award
As a journalist and producer, Sylvia Vollenhoven has a powerful tool at her disposal to raise the awareness of South Africa to both the local and international public.
has been her strength since she first started her newspaper career
in 1975 at the Cape Herald, a newspaper
catering mainly for the colored people of the Western and Eastern Cape. This
newspaper was, however, closed by its white owners as it was considered
a political risk at the time.
was around this period that she joined a group of journalists who pressured
the government by publishing several newspapers and news sheets containing stories
that mainstream newspapers were unable, or unwilling, to publish. She was approached
by the Swedish daily, Expressen, to become their local correspondent and this
allowed her to travel widely, covering South African-related events such as the
Paris Indaba (talks) between leading South Africans and the exiled ANC executive.
work at the SABC progressed from news anchor to presenter of current
affairs programs such as Face to Face and Focus on One. She has
since produced several documentaries profiling people and examining local
She has been honored by several international organizations for her contribution to journalism and, in particular, her reporting on South Africa. Sylvia has presented papers, interviewed international leaders and has been published worldwide. In addition to her heavy workload, Sylvia is a member of the Women's Institute for Leadership, Development and Democracy – an organization that prepares women from poor areas for opportunities that open up in the public and private sectors, as well as helping battered and abused women.
She also serves on the Advisory Committee for the African Women's Media Centre in Dakar, Senegal where the Centre fosters career advancement for individual women whilst strengthening the role women play in the African media.