The ‘Spear’ that won’t go away

A kid asks a question and you provide an answer. But each answer is met with yet another ‘why’. No matter how much information you dish out, the ‘whys’ keep coming. Bullets of insistence with no end in sight. Sometimes as journalists we need to go back to being kids and just stay with the questions, no matter what.

The Journalist looks at why this Spear won’t die but just keeps asking ‘why’…


In 2015 VIA created a TV series called CO.ZA. Media24’s Via TV channel launched it in May 2016 and it has been a huge success. Season 2 has been on air on DSTV, the SA pay TV service, from November 2016. It is a VIA original concept that is now being developed as an international show.

A keystone of the concept is that the stories are created by viewers, under guidance from the producers. Video clips submitted by viewers, produced mostly with smart phones, answer some basic questions. For example:

  • What is home? How or why do we leave and what defines the sense of loss we experience when we do?
  • What are the essential national characteristics that we take with us into the world?
  • Each episode has a Video Postcard, an update from a previous participant


Our Work

VIA’s track record across Africa is impressive. Our main projects include The Keeper of the Kumm transmedia initiative, a TV series called Sanguru, recently completed documentary films as well as broadcast media development and training. The Keeper of the Kumm, written by Sylvia Vollenhoven, will be published by Tafelberg to coincide with two decades of South African democracy in 2014. It has been shortlisted for the inaugural City Press Tafelberg non fiction Book Award. The spinoffs from the novel include a musical theatre piece (already earmarked for a prestigious national arts festival)and documentary as well as feature films. The World Bank and the SABC has supported the this project based on the historic Bushman Visionary //Kabbo. He is the main informant in the University of Cape Town Bleek/Lloyd  archive  that has been entered into UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. The Kumm (it means story in the extinct !Xam language) project is a VIA original concept.

PDF Download: Project Prospectus… The Keeper of the Kumm


VIA was recently commissioned by the SABC to produce two investigative documentaries:

  • Project Spear, a probe into the billions looted from state coffers in the dying days of the apartheid regime
  • Roar Young Lions a film on the neglected former MK (ANC military wing) cadres who live on the margins of society. Produced by Bev Mitchell and Directed by Quinton Fredericks.


VIA has been training journalists in East and West Africa. Our  Print, Broadcast and New Media Training has yielded excellent results across Africa. In Ghana we pioneered the development of a citizen journalism network and a weekly radio show, Hotline. This is Ghana’s first ever radio documentary slot. It has transformed coverage of social issues and poverty. After          only 18 months the VIA trainees scooped 11 of the annual Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) awards. The Journalist of the Year, Henry Kwaku Owusu Peprah, benefited more from our training opportunities than most. The two stories singled out by the judges were both Hotline documentaries. Also coached the GJA  Awards runner-up, Mennasseh Azure Awuni who          was nominated “most promising journalist”. A young man whom we mentored and trained to take over the project was awarded CNN 2012 Radio Journalist of the year for his Hotline piece on Accra’s squatter camps.

Our training has also included teaching a documentary course at the University of Cardiff for Britain’s esteemed Thomson Foundation and working with Washington’s International Center for Journalists (ICFJ). Training partners have included Paddy Coulter OBE (former Director of the Reuters Institute); Canada’s Tim Knight (Author of Storytelling & the Anima Factor); Oxford University’s Professor Paul Collier (Author of The Bottom Billion & Director the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University) and the London School of Economics’ Sir Geoffrey Owen (former Editor of the Financial Times in the UK).


Consultancies to international organisations have included the UK’s Thomson Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation and the SABC.

VIA MD Sylvia Vollenhoven was the Chief Executive for INPUT 2008 the annual screening conference of the International Public Television organisation held in Johannesburg at the Sandton Convention Centre. The event attracted about 1,300 TV professionals from around the world.


To establish arenas of African creative excellence that build a legacy of magnificence driven by visionary leadership.


To build a pan African broadcast storytelling network that is a true reflection of our Continent’s excellence, while developing sound business models for the media industry.