Sowetan editor takes fall for Miyeni column

2011-08-03 22:32

Johannesburg - The Sowetan's acting editor Len Maseko has taken full responsibility for Eric Miyeni's column and has resigned, its publisher Avusa said on Wednesday.

"Although Maseko was on leave at the time, he accepts the consequences of this lapse in the paper's judgment, which allowed the column to appear in one of the country's finest publications," the company's editor-in-chief Mondli Makhanya said in a statement.

Maseko took on the job of acting editor at the paper earlier this year.

Mpumelelo Mkhabela, previously Daily Dispatch editor, would now take on the role of editor. The changes were a bid to bolster the existing team and continue to deliver "quality content", Makhanya said.

Avusa's parliamentary bureau chief Brendan Boyle would take on the role of Daily Dispatch editor.

Wants Makhanya fired

Miyeni, who was fired this week over a column he wrote about City Press editor Ferial Haffajee, published on Monday, called on Avusa Limited to sack Makhanya.

"Mondli Makhanya should have been fired for publishing the controversial column that got David Bullard fired from the Sunday Times."

Bullard was sacked after an outcry over a column in April 2008 about an uncolonised Africa, which was perceived as racist.

"There is no legal proof of any wrongdoing with regards to my Sowetan column entitled 'Haffajee does it for white masters'.

"For that reason, nobody, including me, should have been fired by Avusa for it," he said.

Instead of being fired after the Bullard matter, Makhanya was promoted to editor-in-chief, Miyeni said.

"He is the one who taught Avusa editors by example that you do not have to do your editorial duties to get ahead at Avusa. You must simply apologise when things go wrong after the fact and fire an underling. Mondli should be fired too," he said.

Makhanya could not immediately be reached for comment.

Must do something

On Wednesday, Haffajee was seeking advice on what to do about Miyeni's description of her as a "black snake" who might have been necklaced during the apartheid era.

Necklacing involves pushing a car tyre soaked in petrol over a person's head and shoulders and setting it alight. It was commonly associated with the murder of black people accused of collaborating with apartheid-era security forces, but is still recorded in South Africa in acts of vigilantism.

Haffajee did not know yet whether she should go to court over the matter, or to the press ombudsman, but said she felt she "must do something about this".

She said Miyeni was a writer and "thought leader" she had admired, having read all his books, which include "The Only Black at the Dinner Party". However, Monday's column was hate speech, she said.

Questions raised

Miyeni wrote it in response to the City Press' reporting on a trust ANC Youth League president Julius Malema registered in the name of his son.

It was reported that an unnamed businessman had claimed the trust was used to funnel funds to Malema in exchange for being given preference when contracts and tenders were awarded.

The newspaper has previously run articles which have raised questions about how Malema afforded his lifestyle, which reportedly includes a multi-million rand home in Sandton and loans of luxury vehicles.

Malema said the trust was used to pass donations to charity, and felt his other financial affairs were private and not up for scrutiny by anyone other than the tax man.

He encouraged anyone with information on a bribe paid to him to approach the police for an investigation.

The police have already been asked to investigate Malema's lifestyle, by the Freedom Front Plus.

In the column, Miyeni wanted to know why City Press was investigating only blacks and not whites.

No idea

Miyeni is considering suing the Sowetan for his sacking.

He asked why the Sowetan reacted only on Monday when he submitted the column for publication on Thursday.

"I ask myself why the article was published in the first place," reader Lindy Nene, of Alberton, wrote in a letter to the editor published in the Sowetan on Wednesday.

"I think it's one of two things: The editor thought the article fit for public consumption and published, or the editor simply has no idea what is happening in his own backyard, meaning he is not doing his job."

Apart from Bullard, Kuli Roberts of the Sunday World and Deon Maas of Rapport have had their columns canned in recent years as a result of a public outcry over their work.

Roberts wrote on stereotypes of coloured women and Maas on Satanism.

  • Rob - 2011-08-03 23:16

    Someone threatened his health. I wonder who?

      daaivark - 2011-08-04 07:23

      No thanks, Dubula, it's fine. Those beneficiaries are dead now anyway. Take that chip on your shoulder somewhere else please.

      Majozi - 2011-08-04 08:06

      @Daaidoos...Whites were given the degrees they claim to have studied for and it is still happening now.

      George - 2011-08-04 08:19

      Mondli Makhanya should also have resigned for the David Bullard article, this is not fair instead Mondli was promoted. What about Zapiro who uses the rape metaphors. Rape is disgusting violence against women yet Mondli does allow Zapiro to use such metaphors to make his political points. Double standards.

      observer - 2011-08-04 08:19 are absolutely deluded. I studied extremely hard for both my matric and my teaching degree. What we had was greater opportunity. And let me tell you that as teachers we wouldn't have been caught dead striking...our learners and education always came first. That's the problem with many people today - there is an expectation that because you were previously disadvantaged that you should be GIVEN everything, jobs, money, cars, degrees and even respect. No my friend, these things are all earned especially as you now have every opportunity.

      Totman - 2011-08-04 08:22

      @Majozi. Shame, you must say this because you could not get one by studying yourself and now claiming one for free. Seeing that no-one wants to give it to you, you want to disgraced other's Well you do not deserve one if this is your level of intelligence. As in the past and still now students have to work for their's. Call any colour of the rainbow. It is the same for everyone.

      daaivark - 2011-08-04 08:28

      With reluctant respect, Majozi, many people worked dwmned hard for their degrees. I personally never got one. But I was granted a brain. I don't think the Apartheid government (whom I opposed, incidentally) had much to do with that. Do you?

      DW - 2011-08-04 12:29

      Majozi, you can easily buy one on-line. Why dont you go and buy yours. I got my internationally recognised qualification through years of studying and sheer hard work, but you obviously want one for "free" like you want everything else. You obviously have an intensely low self image that you think you cannot achieve what we have on your own. Shame. Poor you. Do you need some assistance in buying your degree? I can refer you to some websites if you want. Apparently it is quite easy. Just look at the lists of "qualifications" so many of those in municipal and government positions have.

      Al - 2011-08-04 15:22

      @Majozi: Give me your contact details. If you can do my job for 3o minutes, I will give you my cars, my house and all my money, and you can get my job. Deal?

  • Motho - 2011-08-04 01:07

    Why Len, what about Mondli?

      DubulaAMABUNU - 2011-08-04 06:32

      @Motho, Mondli should be next, this is exactly what i mentioned yesterday that David Bullard's articles were printed in the Sunday Times under the watchful eye of Mondli but he saw nothing wrong with it until there was an uproar so he as guilty as David Bullard. @Rob, you are stupid, be factual, who threatened his health? for what? he must take responsibility. @Kingkong, bloody agent, apartheid beneficiary, stop being racist and bring facts here. This is a clear indication that we need a media tribunal, we can't let the media regulate itself, they are used as a tool by white capitalist and it needs to be sorted out. To all racists who don't even follow the news Mondli Makhanya fired a white journalist and as blacks we are saying he must take the fall for his inconsistency, there is no way that a junior journalist would have an article plublished with that article have gone through different Senior Editors, so you continue telling us that we are racist.

      Phelan Wulf - 2011-08-04 07:43

      @DUBULA, I wonder in the the face of your blatant racism, and with the hate speech as implied in your name. If I changed my name to KillALLBlackPeople...... Just how long it would take for News24 to delete my account? So, don't preach ineqaulity here you moron!

      Juliarse - 2011-08-04 08:17

      go away post apartheid beneficiary... you call for proof, how about some to back up your claims that the media is a tool for white capitalists. And not your insipid racially charged opinion... FACTS, you know, documentation, real events, not you and your racist kin's perceptions. If there is no wrongdoing and the reports are not factual or have no merit, surely someone who can build a R16 million mansion can afford an attorney to sue, or given the Govt access to our taxes could do the same. They are quick to use out tax money to fund their lavish lifestyles.

      lenand40 - 2011-08-04 09:23

      @Phelan Wulf. If you think it, what is the difference? I would rather deal with an overt racist than a covert one (say all the rights things to remain undetected). I do not agree with DubulaAMABUNU, but to equate his name to "KillALLBlackPeople" is uncouth and cras, just like Dubula's name

      Together - 2011-08-04 11:14

      DubulaAMABUNU - try and find a way to balance your views. If racism is truly your thing, set up a little spreadsheet and mark each day how many stories are written about white and black South Africans. You'll find some interesting trends - J Arthur Brown is covered in the morning, Gerald Majola in the evening. As for the youth league - they are happy to use the media to shout their daily policy announcements to the world, but then cry foul when anyone looks into their affairs. You can't have the platform without the scrutiny - it is what it is. Just like gravity, the rules of publicity make no allowances for race. If they are going to interfere in a grown-up world, they have to manage all their affairs like grown-ups.

      Al - 2011-08-04 15:33

      @DubulaAMABUNU": "need a media tribunal, we can't let the media regulate itself" - Sorry my friend we apartheid and communism are long dead, you live in the past. Most people in SA enjoy freedom.

  • The Matt - 2011-08-04 04:05

    take that take that take that......

  • Spyker May - 2011-08-04 05:03

    If a paper attracts idiots, of the caliber of Eric Miyeni, I would also pack-up and scram...

      markings - 2011-08-04 07:33

      You must have missed all the parts where Haffajee states that she respected and read all of his writing of the past, including his books. Some investigative journalism could explore what happens that makes some journalists go off the rail all of a sudden. All of us might learn something from that because I am sure that this happens to many, if not most, maybe even all the people.

      truthteller - 2011-08-04 08:02

      plain stupid Spyker (i mean u)if its hard to register

      lenand40 - 2011-08-04 08:31

      Miyeni is not a journalist. He is a columnist

  • Nox - 2011-08-04 05:26

    This is media tribunal by Avusa.I concure Makhanya must be fired for trying to appease white folks.Anc must go ahead with media tribunal because the house of newspapers are not in order.

      daaivark - 2011-08-04 07:24

      Well maybe they try to employ people who have a better command of language than you do.

      truthteller - 2011-08-04 08:03

      Mondli will fall too

      Priester - 2011-08-04 08:12

      @daaivark is it really necessary to always make rude comments about spelling and grammar? Some of us do have a different mother tongue therefore we should applaud people for trying to contribute their 2c in a common language. You sir need to change your "holier than thou attitude"

      Juliarse - 2011-08-04 08:18

      "for trying to appease white folks" ... and your proof is?

      myoomsemotor - 2011-08-04 08:27

      @priester i must agree with you on that one even though i'm a supporter of daaivark's comments.

      daaivark - 2011-08-04 08:32

      It helps to be precise, Priester. It also shows that people have given some thought to what they are saying. Today we have wonderful little tools like online dictionaries, grammar guides, etc. When in doubt, one can use them. I think that little pointers on this are a lot less offensive than the idiotic positions held by some and the extreme obscenity of some remarks. But you are free to think what you wish. Just do it with precision.

      lenand40 - 2011-08-04 08:38

      @daaivark. I presume you meant command of the English language. You have no way of knowing whether Nox has better command of her/his mother tongue. I am one of your fans, and to debase your comments by criticising grammar disappoints me. Nox made a point and I suspect you understood what she/he was trying to say. Why not react to the issue? My reaction: There is nothing wrong with a media house taking action against their own, if they went against the policies of the company. Problem here is that Mondli Makhanya is a common thread in every case of columnist writing something and having it withdrawn later. Furthermore, we are told the Editor was on leave, and so could not have approved the publication of the article, which makes the whole episode too convenient. Len was unlikely to be given the job anyway, and am sure he will emerge somewhere in Avusa as a Group Corporate Director.

      daaivark - 2011-08-04 12:07

      @ leland: I appreciate what you are saying, but nevertheless prefer precision, whether one employs English, Afrikaans, Zulu or whichever language. I employ Afrikaans when I wish to make points in a certain way. When people are using English I try to respond in English, and I try to respond in correct English. Sure, I am picky, but this is supposedly an intelligent debate between adults, and with respect, I maintain that there are plenty of tools available nowadays (online and elsewhere) to assist in this. Unless one is precise there is a real danger of getting it wrong. Surely it is in one's own interest to try to avoid that. I only have a matric, but I still try to speak properly when in serious debate.

      daaivark - 2011-08-04 12:09

      Always bearing in mind that this is a piece about a journalist, in other words, someone who makes a living out of wordcraft. So one's expectations are higher than elsewhere.

      lenand40 - 2011-08-04 17:28

      The reason for language is communication, I think. If Nox were to write in her vernacular, chances are that you would not understand her point, and you would have been left out of the debate. The fact that she made an effort to communicate with you in a language not her own somehow makes her a bigger person.

  • Muzi - 2011-08-04 05:47

    Spyker May is not the only idiot in the zoo!! Lord have mercy on him.

      Together - 2011-08-04 11:17

      The youth league is happy to use the media to shout their daily policy announcements to the world, but then cry foul when anyone looks into their affairs. You can't have the platform without the scrutiny - it is what it is. Just like gravity, the rules of publicity make no allowances for race. If the youth are going to interfere in a grown-up world, they have to manage all their affairs like grown-ups.

  • Atholl - 2011-08-04 06:44

    Newspapers have a simple rule to follow when 'recording events of the day and informing and alerting the public' ....... to follow the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. More specifically - to make full use of freedom of speech but limiting this freedom to not advocate hatred that is based on : 'race or ethnicity or gender or religion.' ALL journalists that have been fired in the recent past - including Bullard - never followed this simple rule.

      lenand40 - 2011-08-04 08:42

      There is a difference between a journalists and a columnist. A columnist expresses their view based on a current event or whatever event they so decide. They are often employed to create debate in a society and a good columnist can help attract certain type of readers. A journalist reports on events, and limits their personal opinions i.e. they reflect on the events in a way that should not be biased, while a columnist is expected to be biased towards their own views (unless they clearly state they are being a devil's advocate)

      Atholl - 2011-08-04 09:24

      Journalist or Columist ... they are still bound by the same Constitutional freedom of speech restriction. What if a Columist expresses his 'own' view and starts columnising his own opinion that gay persons, or women or christians or sothos are evil and stirs up hatred toward this 'group' ... that's where the 'Bill of Rights' line is trespassed. On the other hand... a columnist could declare that the Bulle or the Stormers or Bafana need to be destroyed because they are useless ... that's allowed ... even though not true.

      lenand40 - 2011-08-04 09:38

      @Atholl. We are all bound by the same constitution whether we are with the media or not. So, I really do not understand the point of having to state that on your part. In terms of job descriptions, there is a difference between stating an opinion and reporting a fact and that is where the job of a columnist a journalists differs. A columnist challenges the reader's views and attitudes. A columnist who encourages others to act violently against others is a criminal and should be treated as such, since we do have hate speech laws. I do however fail to see where Miyeni may have expressed hate speech. He insulted Ferial by calling her a black snake in the grass (would have prefer green snake myself, but I digress). That is an insult and is accomodated by a different law, but not hate speech laws. Implying that someone would have been necklaced if they made these views in the 80s is cras and stupid, but breaks no laws of hate as only an idiot can take that as an instruction to charge or to necklace someone. If I say that "if you committed this crime in Texas, you would have been hanged" does that indicate I am suggesting the person be hanged? Maybe or maybe not, but it is indeed an observation and is not incitement to violence, unless you believe there are group of people who read newspapers looking for such comparisons and will then carry them out. Your last comment about Stormers, Bulle and Bafana being useless suggests to me that something else in this debate is useless.

      Atholl - 2011-08-04 10:22

      Sir lenand40, my master you have just proven the point. There is a 'law' that prohibits hate speech .... the 'law' is called the Bill of Rights ... section 16 {freedom of speech says}: (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of expression which includes (a)freedom of the press and other media; (2) This right does not extend to: (c) advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm. This 'law' is a supreme law - which means that it cannot be altered, surrendered, tampered with or misinterpreted. .............. you can test your comment of: 'He insulted Ferial by calling her a black snake in the grass (would have prefer green snake myself, but I digress)' .............. with the above 'law' ....... or get someone to read it out for you.

      lenand40 - 2011-08-04 17:39

      I am still trying to understand the point you are making. You called Bullard a journalist. I corrected you. Not really sure. Merely quoting a section of the Bill of Rights does not in itself prove what Miyeni said constitutes hate speech. This is why we have courts. You need to advance an argument (not merely read) that says a certain aspect or all of what he wrote constitute hate speech in this way and that way. Any idiot can find the Bill of Rights and quote it, but more brains are needed to then connect a statement and make it to suggest advocation of hate. You have not done that, and I suspect by your tone, you will not, and would rather engage in sarcasm, which is as we know, is the lowest form of wit. I am arguing that nothing in Miyeni's speech advocates hate as anticipated by the Bill of Rights. When you have time, while not read what Professor De Vos says about the debate between Hate Speech and Free Speech and apply it (if you can) to this case:

  • Wendy - 2011-08-04 07:43

    wish I had a boss like that

      lenand40 - 2011-08-04 09:21

      Who fires you for something you did not do while you were on leave? Who does not want a boss like that?

  • kolobe - 2011-08-04 07:45

    i dont remember Mondli Makhanya taking a fall for bullard,thats what happens when you push false agendas about the government. the will pretend to love you and give you promotions

      Kareltjie Boshoff - 2011-08-04 08:02

      Why can Miyeni not take responsibility for himself like a man? Oh, right - it's because there are no men in the ANC creche league! Just post-apartheid babies with NO PURPOSE in life but to sponge off everyone else! How sad!

      lenand40 - 2011-08-04 09:17

      @Kareltjie. I am no fan of what Miyeni said (black snake stuff, though the rest of the article was true to a point), but a columnist pushes the envelope to create a reaction. However, Miyeni does not own the paper. He is an employee. If his article did not meet the Sowetan standards, then it should not have been published. This was not an ad either. In any case, Sowetan has a right to refuse an advert that does not meet its standards.

  • Zealous ZAR - 2011-08-04 09:07

    Someone give Makhanya a bells...

      lenand40 - 2011-08-04 09:19

      And make sure he does not drink it while on the job, as he seems to have done three times in the past 3 years

  • lenand40 - 2011-08-04 09:26

    3 out of 3 for Mondli Makhanya. Bullard, Kuli Roberts and now Miyeni, and yet he takes no responsibility. I cannot understand how an Editor can be fired when he was on leave when the article was submitted and published.

      ProsAndCons - 2011-08-04 11:05

      He was not fired, he resigned. It's called taking accountability, something that cannot be delegated, and something that a real Man or Woman does as a matter of course when in such a situation. I take my hat off to Maseko for resigning, as it shows true character - something the government of the day could take to heart. Give the man a Bells.

      lenand40 - 2011-08-04 17:44

      He was pressured enough to leave. People who have done nothing wrong do not just resign. Pressure is put on them to either resign or be fired. It is far better to resign than to be fired for one's CV. How can you take accountability for something you did not do? If that was the case, why has Mondli Makhanya resigned, since he has been involved in 3 incidents that led to a columnist being fired? Resigning when you have done nothing wrong is stupid, in my view. If he did something wrong and resigned, hats off to him, but Makhanya says he was on leave when this happened, which would suggest he is denying responsibility and hence is as liable as Makhanya who too was not there to make the decision. Hope he had not abused Bells when he resigned as that will wear off and finding jobs when you are a high profile poop-hole is not easy

  • Virginia - 2011-08-04 11:08

    These are only journalist and the media fighting amongste themselves, can you imagine what goes on in government circles. The problem with this country is that everyone wants do do his job as a 'Black" person and not take responsibility when things go wrong. People like Presiden Obama said I am a United States Senator and that how I will do my job not as a Black Senator. Do your jobs properly and stop with all this politically correctness, call a spade a spade not a shovel, you lot a far to busy cleaning after each other so that you are covered for your jobs, Eric sop being racial your job does not have a place for this kind of thinking, Ferial was right, dont look for the good in Malema if he is cheating on the poor.

      lenand40 - 2011-08-04 17:48

      Obama speech: "I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton's Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I've gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world's poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners - an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible. "

  • Geraldo Mc phu - 2011-08-04 12:49

    Has Sowetan always had an editor anyway ? I have read some sub standard shoddy work from that newspaper . I even remember reading an article that talked about a province the name of which was never mentioned in the article and I could only conclude that it must have been KZN from the contents of that article and many many more , I also think that some of their journalists are not adequately trained .

      lenand40 - 2011-08-04 17:49

      Aggrey Klaaste was the last

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