Khetha Makoatsane authentically shares news with the deaf community

Khetha Makoatsane - IsiZulu news - Newzroom Afrika’s Izindaba Zethu
Khetha Makoatsane - IsiZulu news - Newzroom Afrika’s Izindaba Zethu


Signing in IsiZulu, Khetha Makoatsane authentically shares news with the deaf community 

Celebrating the Newcastle news anchor interpreter this Women’s Month 

When Khetha Makoatsane helps deliver the IsiZulu news on Newzroom Afrika’s Izindaba Zethu in sign language, she opens to door to knowledge and information for millions.

Earlier this year, South African Sign Language was adopted as the country’s 12th official language by the National Assembly. More than four million people in South Africa are deaf or hard of hearing.

Reining from Newcastle, Makoatsane is as vibrant has her hometown city and when she is not on television delivering the news, she interprets lectures for deaf students at the Wits University’s Disability Rights Unit.

Her advice to upcoming journalists, “English is not the only language that one can use. Explore and try telling news in other languages as well; it is important messages do not get lost in translation.”

Mzansi Wethu’s first IsiZulu and IsiXhosa language news bulletin, Izindaba Zethu/Iindaba Zethu launched in February 2023, and broadcasts daily on DStv channel 163 at 19h00.

What led you to a career in news?

My passion came about when I realised how inaccessible news was to the deaf community.

I wanted the deaf community to have access to what was happening in the world and how it affected them and everyone around them.

What is the most memorable news story you have covered in your career?

The most memorable story I have covered was the pandemic. The wearing of masks, staying at home and keeping safe was important information that the Deaf Community needed to know and have access to. A number of members of the Deaf Community were confused and didn't understand what was happening. Having the information in their language helped save lives.

You have been an anchor on Izindaba Zethu since it launched in February, how has it been?

It has been an amazing journey. It feels warm and like you are home. Everyone is nice and helpful. You are given a chance to speak and share your ideas as well. I am not just an interpreter but I also have to come up with stories and I am part of the team. I feel important, not an afterthought like it usually is for sign language interpreters.

What makes anchoring in IsiZulu authentic to you?

IsiZulu is my home language, I encourage everyone, even my own children, to use their home language. It gives me a sense of pride that I get to use my own language on a platform like this. It lets me know that my language is important and it will be preserved.

Speaking to people in a language they understand is important because the information you want to share will definitely reach your target audience.

What is the legacy you would like to leave for the younger journalists rising up the ranks?

I would tell them that English is not the only language that one can use. Explore and try telling news in other languages as well. Not everyone understands English.

Work hard, tell credible and fact-based stories. Look for stories that talk to our daily lives as well as stories that bring hope and positivity.

Tell us about your hometown

I come from Newcastle, the third largest city in KwaZulu Natal. Newcastle has two main townships which are Osizweni and Madadeni, where I am from, in Ikwezi Valley. It is a lovely place, people are friendly and warm. We also have good schools that are doing well and we have a hospital that has almost all specialties. It is a vibrant city.

When you are not providing news to your fellow South Africans, what can you be found doing off camera?

When I am not on camera providing news or at Wits University’s Disability Rights Unit interpreting in lectures for our deaf students and converting study material for blind students into accessible format, you will find me at home with my children playing games, going to nurseries looking for plants and learning about them.

I enjoy looking for trending décor ideas and DIY things that I can do. I listen to podcasts and audiobooks a lot, especially when I’m driving.

Article Courtesy of