South African media icon and College of Humanities alumnus, Devi Sankaree Govender, is at the helm of exposing corruption across South Africa. Her reputation as an award-winning investigative television journalist, has been cemented by 29 years of bold, brave and fearless reporting, holding governments, companies and individuals to account.
Armed with a Bachelors and Honours degree in English, Drama and Performance Studies, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Govender has built a brand of trust, authenticity and justice. Shortly before completing her Bachelor of Arts degree, she was made an offer by SABC Radio as a freelance reporter.
She then began hosting a talk show, Viewpoint, for Lotus FM, gaining a reputation for her upfront approach in addressing controversial and sensitive national issues. ‘This was one wild talk show where my straightforward approach reeled in a huge listenership for the station,’ said Govender.
She spent an impressive 18 years at Carte Blanche, South Africa’s longest running investigative television show.
Govender was enthralled by Carte Blanche when she watched its very first episode in 1988. Growing up in the small town of Umzinto in KZN, the then 15-year-old Govender vowed to her family that she would one day be part of the Carte Blanche team. Her dream was realised when she eventually joined the show in January 2002. She considers her time working on Carte Blanche as a privilege, becoming a household name and asking the ‘bad guys the tough questions’.
Off on another career-defining journey, Govender joined eMedia (eTV and eNCA) in 2020, launching The Devi Show in the middle of a global pandemic. The show has garnered a viewership of millions per week and won a South African Film and Television Award for Best Factual Programme in 2021.
‘I’m good at chasing crooks and because of that, my team and I are creating 30 minutes of in-your-face weekly night television. You will be outraged. You will laugh. You will be inspired while we keep it very real,’ said Govender. She’s taking on fraudsters and scammers while, at the same time, spending the last couple of minutes on the show ‘meeting weird and wonderful, entertaining and inspiring South Africans.’
While producing her show, Govender plays the wait game and is often seen catching crooks in heels.
Speaking about her time at UKZN, Govender said, ‘The University carries a solid reputation for quality teaching. My parents were comfortable about me staying at res – something I am still so grateful for because it gave me the chance to fully immerse myself into university life.’
Reflecting on her best campus memories, Govender said, ‘For my first year, I lived at Mabel Palmer Residence for women. I have fabulous memories which include me taking on extra phone shifts and typing assignments for students, to make extra cash. I also worked as a student assistant at the EG Malherbe library for three years – working in the Reserved Book Room wasn’t my most favourite shift – the filing of all those readings would take hours! Other memories include many happy hours preparing for productions at the Elizabeth Sneddon, Square Space and Open-Air theatres.’
Govender is mum to a Junior Olympic golfer, who is in her third year of a golf scholarship at the University of North Carolina. Her son is in his first year studying towards a BCom Law degree at the University of Pretoria. At present, her two SPCA gangsters rule her home!
Life Lessons from Devi Sankaree Govender
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Mind, body and soul balance is an actual thing – even when your mind is telling you to work harder, push harder… your body needs to rest.
- When you’re older, you will regret all the time you spent worrying about other people’s opinions.