I believe what I wrote about Ferial Haffajee - Miyeni

2011-08-01 22:52

Cape Town - "I believed what I wrote in the column," said former Sowetan columnist Eric Miyeni after his controversial piece about City Press editor Ferial Haffajee caused outrage on Monday.

"I didn't do it to get fired. I believed what I wrote in the column," Miyeni told eNews, adding, "I think she [Haffajee] is a fantastic human being personally speaking."

Miyeni went on to say the editors at Sowetan read the column before publication and that they had days to check it.

The Sowetan terminated Miyeni's column after removing the piece from their website, saying that he had "crossed the line between robust debate and the condonation of violence".

It made me cry

"It was horrendous to read the column. It made me cry. I can endure criticism about our journalism, but this is hate speech about me as a person," Haffajee told Beeld.

Max du Preez tweeted that the column was definitely hate speech.

"It is disgusting of the Sowetan to have published the column. I can't believe that the editor could have approved it."

Haffajee said that she took these comments quite seriously and said she would sue Miyeni in her personal capacity if needs be.

"I am quite shocked because he's someone I looked up to and admired..." 

South Africans aren't that stupid

Miyeni said in an interview Haffajee must be able "to take the punch".

"She is going to sue me. For what? We're no longer in the 80s. South Africans aren't that stupid. They won't necklace anyone."

In Miyeni’s column titled "Haffajee does it for white masters", he wrote that "in the 80s she'd [Haffajee] probably have had a burning tyre around her neck".

Miyeni defended this by saying he was using a metaphor.

"Who the devil is she anyway if not a black snake in the grass, deployed by white capital to sow discord among blacks?” Miyeni wrote in the column.

ANCYL backing

His column came in the wake of a number of stories published by City Press questioning ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema's lifestyle and finances.

On Sunday the paper reported that he paid more than half the R3.6m purchase price for a Sandton house in cash.

Last week it reported Malema was using the Ratanang Family Trust to receive money from politicians, businessmen, mayors and others, allegedly in exchange for facilitating government contracts.

The league's officials have however denied this and said the trust was used to support charities.

The organisation has come out in support of Miyeni, and lashed out at the Sowetan.

"[The] ANCYL condemns the disgusting decision of the Sowetan of terminating Eric Miyeni's column for speaking his mind openly and frankly," the league tweeted on Monday night.

“We particularly applaud that Eric Miyeni says things as they are and exposes the ill-practices of the journalist he wrote about.”

Read more on:    sowetan  |  city press  |  ancyl  |  eric miyeni  |  ferial haffajee  |  johannesburg  |  media  |  hate speech  |  racism

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