Journalists accuse Haffajee of racism

2013-10-18 09:05

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Johannesburg - A group of journalists at City Press newspaper are planning to lay criminal charges against their editor after they accused her of racism, newspapers reported on Friday.

The Star and The New Age said six journalists decided to lay charges of racism and defamation after a meeting with human resources officials over the matter.

Editor Ferial Haffajee had lodged an internal grievance of racism, divisiveness and "cultural superiority" following a staff meeting on Tuesday where the group raised concerns about transformation and alleged discrimination, The Star reported.

One journalist told The New Age that Haffajee asked them to speak their minds at the meeting, saying no one would be targeted.

'Emotions ran high'

"But she became offensive when we started raising pressing issues. Emotions ran high. The discussion shifted to the issue of transformation in management."

The journalists also accused the paper of taking a hard line on stories involving President Jacob Zuma, but not towards the Democratic Alliance.

They accused Haffajee of failing to appoint a senior black news editor with political contacts to help tell stories from "a black perspective".

According to The Star, Haffajee hit back at the "racist mauling" of her three news editors.

In an e-mail on Wednesday, she accused the journalists of racism, giving them a week to decide whether they still wanted to work for the newspaper.

She dismissed the racism allegations, The Star reported.

"Racism, no matter who practises it is abominable and I will speak out against it."

'Virulent and destructive racism'

On Thursday, Haffajee told News24: "I saw real racism and cultural superiority, have seen for a bit, and I will not work under it or nor above it.”

She added that: "Our virulent and destructive racism is often the only thing about us that is colour-blind.”

Haffajee denied reports that the journalists were suspended, saying: "I was angry and had strong words with people, but I did not suspend anybody.”

She said a follow-up meeting has been planned. “We will get somebody wise and skilful to take us to the point of a genuine mutual respect and Constitutionalism."

Read more on:    city press  |  ferial haffajee  |  racism  |  media

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