Unathi Nkayi cleared by the BCCSA over ‘tribalistic comments’ on Idols SA

Unathi Nkayi. (Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)
Unathi Nkayi. (Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)

Idols SA judge, Unathi Nkayi has been cleared by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) over her “tribalistic comments” that she made on the show last year.

According to the judgement made by the authority, there was no proof that Unathi had advocated hatred or incited harm in her statement.

“We submit that comments by Ms. Nkayi do not in any way contravene clause 10.3 as they do not meet any of the elements set out in the clause, namely:  Advocacy;  For hatred;  Based on race or ethnicity; and  Incitement to cause harm,” the adjudication read before revealing that the broadcasting authority does not condone tribalism.

“Having said that, we would like to emphasize that we do not condone any form of tribalism as we believe in an inclusive society, which is depicted in our programming. As soon as Ms. Nkyai’s comments were brought to our attention, she was immediately reprimanded for her personal views she made during the program. Ms. Nkayi subsequently apologised on-air and social media;” they wrote.

In an episode which aired on 10 November 2019, Unathi outraged some viewers after congratulating one of the finalists, Luyolo Yiba, who gave a stellar performance on the show by saying Xhosa people were holding up the nation.

“On behalf of the Xhosa people, we are tired of holding up the nation."

She then went on to name a few South African Xhosa people who had achieved greatness such as Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, Miss SA Zozibini Tunzi, herself for becoming an author and then eventually Luyolo. 

"We are happy to have someone from the Eastern Cape in the finale," she said.

Read More: Unathi Nkayi apologises for tribalistic comment

She then later apologised for her comments. But in a letter to the BCCSA that DRUM has seen, the complainant, was not satisfied with the judge’s apology.

“After the public's outcry, she 'apologised.' That apology is fake and should not be considered. A massage should be sent to the public that tribalism is as bad as racism and should be treated as such,” he wrote in the complaint.

“These words have offended many viewers, including me. They are very tribalist, uncalled for, and unfortunate. They send a negative tone which praises the Xhosa people as superior to any other tribe in South Africa. I believe that this is wicked and should be rejected with the contempt it deserves,” he continued.

In response to the complainant, the broadcasting authority said that Unathi had simply been joking and apologised to those who took offense.

“…in her social media apology, Ms. Nkayi explained that she was simply trying to carry on a joke that had been 'passed around' lately. It's clear from her comment on the show and her apology in the media, thereafter, that the intent was never to bring down any group based on race or ethnicity, but merely to join in a celebration of excellence in the spirit of recent achievements of the recently crowned Miss SA and the Captain of the Springbok team, to name a few.

"Once again, we sincerely apologise to those who we offended by Ms. Nkayi's comments, including the complainant.”