Debora Patta Biography: Unraveling Truths and Shaping Narratives

Debora Patta Biography: Unraveling Truths and Shaping Narratives

Debora Patta, an esteemed South African investigative broadcast journalist and television producer, was born on September 1, 1964, in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Her roots extend to Calabria, Italy, infusing her upbringing with a diverse cultural heritage.

Debora Patta

Born 1 September 1964 (age 59)

Nationality South African
Alma mater University of Cape Town
Occupation(s) Broadcast journalist, television producer, radio personality
Years active 1990–

Mweli Mzizi (m. 1996⁠–⁠2002)

Lance Levitas (m. 2003⁠–⁠2011)
Partner Andrew Levy (2012–)
Children 2

Early Life

Born to an Italian father from Rome and a mother of Calabrian descent, Debora spent her formative years in Italy before relocating to South Africa with her mother and sister in 1976. Educated at Rustenburg School for Girls in Cape Town, she matriculated in 1981 before pursuing higher studies at the University of Cape Town, where she earned a Bachelor of Social Sciences in 1984.


Debora’s journey into journalism commenced with her work as a political activist, teaching literacy in Cape Town’s squatter camps until 1990. She then transitioned to freelance reporting for the BBC, laying the foundation for her illustrious career. Joining Radio 702 in Johannesburg in 1990, she swiftly rose through the ranks, eventually serving as news editor and special assignments editor.

Transitioning to television, Debora joined upon its inception in 1998, where she played a pivotal role as a senior correspondent and chief anchor of news. In 2000, she conceptualized and anchored the groundbreaking current affairs program “3rd Degree,” earning acclaim for its incisive interviews and investigative reporting. Her tenure as editor-in-chief of news further solidified her reputation as a trailblazer in South African journalism.

In 2013, Debora’s career took an international turn as she joined CBS News as their Africa correspondent, expanding her reach to global audiences. Throughout her career, she has covered major international events and interviewed prominent figures, showcasing her versatility and tenacity as a journalist.

Reporting Style

Known for her direct and uncompromising approach, Debora has been hailed as a voice for the voiceless, fearlessly confronting corruption and injustice. Her investigative prowess has earned her both praise and criticism, with her hard-hitting journalism often sparking controversy and debate. Despite facing backlash, Debora remains steadfast in her commitment to uncovering truth and holding power to account.

Personal Life

Debora’s personal life reflects her resilience and determination in the face of adversity. Married twice, she has navigated challenges, including interracial marriage and bureaucratic hurdles, with grace and fortitude. A devoted mother to her two daughters, she balances her demanding career with family life, embodying strength and compassion in all aspects of her life.

As of 2019, Debora resides in Johannesburg with her youngest daughter and partner, Andrew Levy, continuing her pursuit of truth and justice through her groundbreaking journalism.

Debora Patta’s remarkable journey serves as a testament to the transformative power of journalism in shaping narratives, challenging norms, and fostering social change. Through her unwavering dedication and fearless reporting, she continues to inspire and empower audiences, leaving an indelible mark on the world of journalism.


Debora Patta’s exceptional contributions to journalism have been recognized through numerous prestigious awards:

  • 1992 South African Checkers Journalist of the Year: Acknowledging her outstanding journalistic endeavors.
  • 2004 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Gauteng Region: Recognizing her excellence in journalism within the Gauteng region.
  • 2004 MTN 10 Most Remarkable Women in Media: Celebrating her remarkable achievements and influence in the media industry.
  • 2007 Simonsvlei Journalist Achiever of the Year: Honoring her significant contributions and accomplishments as a journalist.
  • 2009 Vodacom Women in the Media: Highlighting her leadership and impact as a woman in the media landscape.
  • 2010 CEO Magazine South Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government: Affirming her status as one of the most influential women in South Africa’s business and government sectors.
  • 2010 Tricolor Globe Award: Presented by the Italian Women in the World association, recognizing her exceptional achievements as an individual of Italian origin abroad.
  • 2015 Emmy Award Nomination: As part of the CBS News team, she was nominated for their comprehensive coverage of the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa, showcasing her commitment to impactful journalism on a global scale.


Debora Patta’s literary contributions include co-authoring insightful works:

  • Baby Micaela: The Inside Story of South Africa’s Most Famous Abduction Case (1996): Co-authored with Anne Maggs, offering an in-depth exploration of a high-profile abduction case in South Africa.
  • One Step Behind Mandela: The Story of Rory Steyn, Nelson Mandela’s Chief Bodyguard (2000): Co-authored with Rory Steyn, providing a compelling narrative of the life and experiences of Nelson Mandela’s chief bodyguard.

Through her writings and investigative journalism, Debora Patta continues to enlighten and inspire audiences, shedding light on important issues and capturing the essence of significant events in South Africa and beyond.


Debora Patta’s illustrious career in journalism is not only marked by her exceptional talent and dedication but also by the numerous accolades and publications that attest to her profound impact on the field. From her early days as a reporter to her tenure as a correspondent for CBS News, Patta has consistently demonstrated a commitment to truth, integrity, and social justice.

Her impressive array of awards, including recognitions from prestigious organizations such as Vodacom and CEO Magazine, underscore her status as a trailblazer in the media industry. Moreover, her Emmy Award nomination for coverage of the Ebola virus epidemic showcases her ability to tackle complex global issues with depth and insight.

Through her publications, Patta has further solidified her legacy, offering readers profound insights into notable events and individuals in South African history. From high-profile abduction cases to the life of Nelson Mandela’s chief bodyguard, her works provide invaluable perspectives on the country’s past and present.

In essence, Debora Patta’s contributions to journalism extend far beyond the confines of traditional reporting. She has served as a beacon of truth, a champion for the marginalized, and a voice for the voiceless. As she continues to navigate the ever-changing landscape of media, her legacy remains a testament to the enduring power of storytelling to inform, inspire, and effect change.

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