Gerda Potgieter – Journey to the Truth

Published by Beyond The Vale Publishing

Published date – June 2023


News headlines can make or break a business or ruin a reputation. And with social media, this can happen worldwide in seconds. Headlines are there to grab our attention and we trust what we read. But should we?

“Want to stop a cult? Then don’t buy aQuellé bottled water”, was one of the blaring headlines released on 19 September 2020. The water is sourced and bottled at the KwaSizabantu Mission, situated in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.  Other sensationalised newspaper headlines included: “Mission of Fear”, “I escaped from the Mission of Hell!”,  and numerous other unconstructive malicious headlines!

The sensation and spite were what prompted author and seasoned communicator, Gerda Potgieter, to look deeper into what was behind the media campaign. When an independent panel exonerated the mission from all of the accusations in November of the same year, she decided to go on a journey to find the truth. News24 was at the forefront of the media attacks and therefore she focused her investigations on the coverage of this news outlet.

The purpose of the book from the beginning was to shine a spotlight on ethical failures on the part of mainstream media. The focus was therefore on unpacking red flags in news reporting and highlighting the exploitation of journalistic practices that should be avoided in ethical news reporting.

The CRL Commission also investigated the mission, following the media attacks and exonerated the mission on Thursday, 13 July. However, News24 continued with its sensationalised news coverage.

Will the mission ever clear its name and restore the damage done to its image? How do you prove something that did not happen? How do you get the truth through to the wide audience that believes all they read in newspapers?

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