Debora Patta was born in Zimbabwe after her Italian farther immigrated to the country as a railway employee. Her father was from Rome and she lived there for a time when she was young. Her Italian origins take root in Praia a Mare in Calabria. When her father passed away, Debora and her sister inherited a hotel in Rome as well as holiday apartments in Italy. She travels to Italy frequently and considers it her second home.
Debora is one of the most respected and influential broadcasters in South Africa and has practiced as a journalist and broadcaster for over two decades. Her career spans radio and television as both an on-air newswoman and senior editorial manager. She has won multiple awards for her role in journalism and has a gift for bringing the news as it is, often revealing the inspiring stories beyond the headlines. She is notoriously known and loved for her hard hitting investigative style, but despite her reputation as a tough investigative journalist, her stories from behind the news and scenes are often inspiring and sometimes very moving.
In 1976 Debora moved to South Africa with her mother, a nurse and devout Catholic, and sister after her parents got divorced. She was schooled at the Rustenburg School for Girls in the Rondebosch suburb of Cape Town and matriculated there in 1981.
In 1984 Debora studied at the University of Cape Town and obtained a Bachelor of Social Science and briefly taught aerobics while at university.
In 1990 Debora Patta joined Radio 702 in Johannesburg and worked her way up as news editor in 1994 and special assignments editor in 1997.
The first news story she worked on was about the return of ANC leader, Oliver Tambo, from exile in December 1990 and which aired on Radio 702.
While working as the news and special assignments editor for Radio 702 and its sister station, Cape Talk, in 1997 and 1998 she investigated and reported on the 1986 plane crash in which the Mozambican President, Samora Machel, was killed. During her investigation, she received several threatening phone calls. Later she participated in a post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission special hearing in 1998, in which she provided expert opinion and assisted questioning with regards to the Helderberg plane crash and the Machel plane crash. Later she interviewed for a 2008 Mayday (Air Crash Investigation or Air Emergency) documentary on the Helderberg crash.
Patta later returned to Radio 702 as a stand-in talk radio host in October 2013.
Debora worked for e.TV, the first privately owned free-to-air television station in South Africa, since its inception in 1998. She started with the station as a senior correspondent in Johannesburg and was subsequently appointed as chief anchor of e.TV news.
For over a decade, from 2000 to 2013, she was the executive producer and anchor of the weekly current affairs television programme, 3rd Degree. The show was conceptualised by her and focussed on hard-hitting interviews. The final episode aired May 14th 2013.
Debora has, throughout her long career, reported on major international stories, such as the September 11 attacks and the death of Princess Diana. She has further interviewed several notable figures, such as Shimon Peres, Oprah Winfrey, Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, Jacob Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa, Julius Malema, Eugene Terre’Blanche and Robert McBride.
In 2005 she was appointed editor-in-chief of e.TV news but resigned in 2009 to follow her passion for journalism and focus on 3rd Degree, which she is famously known for.
Debora also played a key role in the launch of South Africa’s first 24-hour news channel, eNews Channel Africa (eNCA) by e.TV in 2008.
Later a puppet version of Debora, voiced by Nikki Jackman, was cast as co-host of the satirical television news programme, ZANews.
On the 7th of May 2013, e.TV and eNCA announced that Debora had resigned to pursue other interests as a freelancer for international news companies.
After her departure from e.tv, Debora began working as a foreign correspondent for CBS News.