The Rand Daily Mail

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The Rand Daily Mail
Front page of the Rand Daily
Type Daily newspaper
Format Broadsheet
Owner(s) Anglo American Corporation
Publisher Clive Kinsley
Editor Rex Gibson
Founded 1902
Ceased publication 1985
Headquarters Johannesburg

The Rand Daily Mail was a Johannesburg daily newspaper with an anti-apartheid editorial stance, which is best known for breaking the news about the apartheid state's Muldergate Scandal in 1979.[1] It also exposed the truth about the death in custody of anti-Apartheid activist Steve Biko, in 1977.


Soon after it was founded in 1902 by Harry Cohen,[2][3] The Rand Daily Mail was bought by mining magnate Abe Bailey.[4]

During the apartheid years, journalists like Benjamin Pogrund reported on political and economic issues affecting black South Africans about which whites were largely ignorant. Pogrund, for example, reported on the Sharpeville massacre of 1960.

In 1963 journalists at the paper wrote about prison conditions, and were the first to report on forced removals.[1]

On 3 November 1978 Rand Daily Mail journalists Mervyn Rees and Chris Day reported on the use of public funds since 1973 to set up a disinformation network in South Africa and abroad. The money was used in attempts to buy The Washington Star, and to set up The Citizen as a government-controlled counter to The Rand Daily Mail.[5]

Hounded by the state, the paper's board decided to moderate its content for the sake of attracting more affluent white readers. This strategy led to financial losses and the newspaper was forced to close in 1985, eighty-three years after it was founded. [1]

After its closure, the black newspaper The Sowetan described The Rand Daily Mail as the first white newspaper to regard blacks as human beings. Yet for most of the apartheid period (1948–1990) the paper suffered from poor management, government infiltration, and state censorship.[6] The management often tried to replace more liberal editors with conservative ones.

After the closure of The Rand Daily Mail, some of its journalists (like Anton Harber and Irwin Manoim) pooled their severance pay to start the Weekly Mail (now Mail & Guardian), which carried on the anti-apartheid stance of its predecessor.


See also[edit]


  • Hachten, William A., and C. Anthony Giffard. 1984. "The Press and Apartheid: Repression and Propaganda in South Africa." University of Wisconsin Press
  • Pogrund, Benjamin. 1999. "War of Words-Memoir of a South African Journalist." New York: Seven Stories Press. Rees, Mervyn and Chris Day. 1980. "Muldergate: The Story of the Info Scandal." Macmillan South Africa.


  1. ^ a b Renowned South African journalist to teach at School of Journalism and Mass Communication University of North Carolina
  2. ^ Nathan, Manfred (1919). The South African commonwealth. Johannesburg, Cape Town: The Specialty press of South Africa Ltd. p. 242. 
  3. ^ "Latest Foreign News". The Jewish Times and Observer L (34). 25 August 1905. 
  4. ^ History of the press in South Africa
  5. ^ The Information Scandal
  6. ^ The Daily Courage TIME
  7. ^ Laurence Owen Vine Gandar Obituary

External links[edit]

  • Harber, Anton. 2007. "Great South African Investigative Stories."
  • Knight, Robin. 2000. "Journalist Benjamin Pogrund let the facts speak for themselves, no easy task in apartheid South Africa." Time Europe, June 12, Vol. 155, No. 23.