Newspaper distorted Zuma's comments about racism - Presidency

Johannesburg - The Presidency has accused Independent Newspapers of distorting President Jacob Zuma's recent comments about racism in its coverage of his interview with eNCA.

On Monday morning, the group’s titles "erroneously stated" that Zuma had said that racism was not an issue in South Africa, the Presidency said.

"The President stated that South Africa had addressed institutionalised racism since 1994 and that the problem that remained was that of individuals who still harboured racism and prejudice.

"He emphasised that all should be done to eradicate racism in society and that there should be consequences for racism."

The Star's front page story on the interview carried the headline "It's a gross exaggeration", with a sub head saying "[Former Finance Minister Nhlanhla] Nene didn't crash rand, racism is not an issue, says Zuma".

The Star's editor Kevin Ritchie told News24 that while the headline and the story were correct, the problem was with the sub head.

"We have apologised to the Presidency for that," he said.

The paper had apologised in the online version of the story, and would apologise in Tuesday's print edition.

Zuma said in his interview with eNCA: "With time, people have tended to exaggerate the issue of racism. They say South Africa is still a racist country... [it is] not true.

"We defeated racism when we pursued the non-racial society. Our society is a rainbow nation, it is not racial. It does not remove certain individuals who have racist beliefs, who are uttering racist statements. You cannot, because of people, less than five, have made racist statements and then brush the whole country, that the country is racist."

Zuma was commenting on the public outcry that followed statements made by a few social media users, most notably KwaZulu-Natal estate agent Penny Sparrow, who called black beachgoers monkeys.

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