Furious response to claim of language bans at newspaper

2016-02-05 11:54

Pietermaritzburg - A memo sent out to staff at The Witness newspaper apparently implying that they were not allowed to speak isiZulu was wrong, general manager Ernie Roworth has said.

This comes after a screengrab of an e-mail from a human resources officer at the KwaZulu-Natal newspaper stated that the language policy of Media24, The Witness’s parent company, was that “English is the preferred language for internal communication”.

It also stated that “Media24 News is part of a bilingual business unit where English and Afrikaans are used to communicate”.

Tweeters reacted with anger, with one person saying: “I thought apartheid was over long ago.”

“Ashamed is what they should be all 11 official languages are enshrined in the constitution [sic],” wrote Nosipho Khulu.

But Roworth said on Thursday that this was “simply wrong and we’re investigating how this happened”.

“Most regrettably, it led to our staff feeling excluded and marginalised. Subsequently we have communicated our language policy to staff and called a team meeting... to discuss the issue and dispel any confusion and distress that may have been caused.”

The Media24 group also responded to the claim, saying the memo was “ALL kinds of wrong!”

“Media24 has a set of core values that informs our culture and drives our conduct. This includes how we communicate with one another,” the company said in a statement posted on its website.

“As with all our policies our language policy is aligned to our values,” it further said.

Media24 said that due to its staff makeup, English must often be used but meetings may be conducted in any one of South Africa’s official languages provided everyone in the room understands the language concerned.

- News24 is a part of the 24.com group which also falls under the Media24 family.

Read more on:    media24  |  pietermaritzburg  |  media  |  language

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