'It's time to say goodbye': Gareth Cliff bids farewell to Idols


He's as much a fixture on the popular reality show as the horrifying renditions of Killing Me Softly.

But after 11 season's on M-Net's Idols SA, judge Gareth Cliff has decided to call it quits.

"It’s time! After eleven seasons of Idols, it’s time for me to say goodbye," the Cliff Central founder (38) posted on Facebook.

"What better way to bring this chapter to a close than a trip to New York and meeting American Idols judge Harry Connick Jr and being on his post-Idols show - 'Harry'."

"What’s next? Watch this space…… #Cliffhanger."

The former 5FM shock jock has had his share of ups and downs in his tenure on the show.

Just last year, M-Net fired Gareth after he weighed in on the Penny Sparrow race debacle on social media. But Gareth challenged the decision, taking the matter all the way to the Johannesburg High Court.

Read more: High Court rules in favour of Gareth Cliff

In January this year, the court ruled in his favour, and ordered M-Net to reinstate him with immediate effect.

On behalf of M-Net, Advocate Wim Trengove had argued that the broadcaster was well within its right to fire Gareth as his comment has made him appear as a “poster boy for racism”.

The broadcaster also argued that it was unfair to expect them to employ someone whose public image damages its brand.

Read more: Gareth Cliff reveals his Idols salary in court papers

In turn, the media personality’s legal team, led by Dali Mpofu, called for his dismal to be reversed as there was no way to measure if the public really perceives Gareth to be a racist.

After the ruling, Gareth told YOU he hoped his case will serve as an example to others. “I think we have to stand up for ourselves,” he says.

“People shouldn’t worry that if they’re saying something completely uncontroversial that some corporation is going to

fire them over that. I mean, we live in a democracy where freedom of speech is an absolute essential for us to be able to evolve as a society, for us to fix things such as poverty and economic equality.”

He says it concerns him that people are now so reluctant to speak their minds.

“We live in a place where there’s this lynch mob that runs around deciding what will and won’t be acceptable conversation, who the hell put them in charge? Most of these people have under 100 followers [on social media] and there’s so much anonymity.

“I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff on social media too. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not saying I’m perfect, but let’s

learn to laugh a little more because it’s suddenly become a very serious place.”

Let’s learn to listen to each other a little more and let’s learn to understand each other a little more.”

But he says the outcry over his tweet has taught him a valuable lesson. He says now he’ll think twice before taking to social

media to voice his opinions.

“So often in a tweet or in a Facebook post you don’t know someone’s tone. Social media has given us a space to tell our stories to a wider audience where everyone’s a broadcaster but it’s also taken away some of the intimacy and that tone that informs a conversation.”

At the time, Gareth revealed he plans to use his CliffCentral show when he needs to vent.

So does he have any regrets? “Well, I regret the whole thing,” he says.

“I’d have been more rested and everybody would have been able to focus their hatred and anger on Penny Sparrow.

“So ja, I wish I’d stayed on holiday longer – that’s my regret.”

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