Govan Whittles on making an impact through work on ‘Carte Blanche’

‘Carte Blanche’ presenter Govan Whittles. Picture: Supplied.

‘Carte Blanche’ presenter Govan Whittles. Picture: Supplied.

Published Jun 24, 2024


FOR almost a decade and a half, renowned journalist Govan Whittles has been honing his craft at some of the country’s top print and broadcasting platforms.

From working at “Eyewitness News” (EWN), “The Mail & Guardian”, “eNCA”, “Newzroom Afrika” and “HYPE Magazine”, while also featuring on “CNN”, “RT International” and the “BBC”, he has covered some of the biggest stories in South Africa’s recent history.

These included coverage of the Marikana massacre and the subsequent strikes that hit the platinum mining belt, as well as the Oscar Pistorius trial.

He also cut his teeth in the political arena, tracking the evolution of the EFF since its leader, Julius Malema, was first taken to disciplinary hearings by the ANC, while he was the leader of the ANC Youth League.

This included reporting on the various crises affecting the ANC and the DA.

The Eastern Cape-born journalist took his career up a notch when he joined M-Net’s “Carte Blanche,” alongside Claire Mawisa, Erin Bates, Lourensa Eckard, Macfarlane Moleli and Masa Kekana.

Since joining a year ago, he has made giant strides on the award-winning investigative journalism and current affairs show.

“I've had a few really memorable moments like the phara-phara (a term that refers to a drug addict who terrorises the community through criminal activities) crashing our interview in my hometown and my surprise at Mamkhize's (businesswoman and media personality Shauwn Mkhize) refusal to acknowledge the facts after we produced a copy of her own police record and affidavit,” he told Independent Media Lifestyle.

With his stories trending online, Whittles admitted that being part of the show had been an adjustment.

“The most challenging aspect has been anchoring ‘Carte Blanche’ because of my admiration and respect for the show.”

“I always want to do right by viewers and deliver an excellent show.”

Overall, Whittles feels blessed about this new chapter in his career.

“It's been exceptional,” he admitted.

“I've learnt so much and I have told stories that I believe were truly impactful.”

“The opportunity to connect with people from all over the country, while telling their stories is one I've grabbed with both hands and it is something I really appreciate. I've had a fantastic time so far, long may it continue.”

Whittles believes that the weekly show has been a success for decades because it adds value to South Africans from all walks of life.

“‘Carte Blanche’ tells stories that bring change and we firmly hold power to account.”

“We are reliable, we have great people on-screen, we produce quality stories and we have an exceptional editorial team with decades of experience.”

The acclaimed journalist, who has been in the industry for 14 years, believes his previous experience him for this role.

‘Carte Blanche’ presenter Govan Whittles. Picture: Supplied.

“The team effort at ‘Carte Blanche’ is producing some of the best work I've ever undertaken and my role here as a presenter is complementary to the producer, who undertakes the research and develops most of the story,” he explained.

“It's through the team effort as well as my experience in talk radio, weekly newspapers and television, that is paying off, and I’ve been able to approach stories in a more considered manner because of the support.”

Whittles also looked up to the late Derek Watts, who worked on “Carte Blanche” for 35 years.

The media veteran died in August last year at the age of 74, after a battle with skin cancer that spread to his lungs.

“Lately, I've been watching Derek Watts stories on YouTube and wherever I can find them, to try to catch a few tips.”

Whittles added that he was fortunate to have been mentored by several prominent media figures during his career.

“The person who really helped me cut my teeth by giving me opportunities is Katy Katapodis to whom I am eternally grateful,” he said.

“Similarly, Stephen Grootes groomed me into a broadcast journalist while at ‘EWN’, and Beauregard Tromp helped me discover my writing style and voice while Matuma Letsoalo refined the little political prowess I may possess, at the ‘Mail & Guardian’.”

With the demands of his job, Whittles spends his downtime with his wife and kids and going to church.

“If I'm lucky, my wife will allow me to play a round of golf,” he laughed.

His advice for aspiring journalists is simple yet profound: “Get out into the communities and speak to people, every kind of person you can find.”

He added: “Read as much as you can across all platforms and be open to changing your view when presented with new evidence.”