Cliff voted out of Idols SA after race choon
Johannesburg - M-Net has announced that Gareth Cliff will not be part of the judging panel for Idols SA Season 12.
His apparent axing comes after comments he made in the wake of Penny Sparrow's Facebook rant about Africans behaving like monkeys at Durban's main beachfront on New Year's day.
MNet has not explicitly said why Cliff was replaced as a judge
The independent broadcaster did not explain why Mr. Cliff was pulled from Idols SA Season 12. The reality singing competition is set to commence at the end of this month with auditions. In their statement, MNet thanked Mr. Cliff "for the critical role he has played in seeking out and developing new talent over the years and for contributing to the success of the show to date."
Several comments on the show's official Facebook page pointed to the race row Mr. Cliff became embroiled in.
Some fans of the show criticised MNet's decision to remove him from the panel.
Thandiwe Mkandawire wrote on the page: "I read Gareth's comments on the Penny saga, that man is not racist. I've listened to him on radio, follow his social media pages and have even served him as a waitress. He is outspoken yes but racist I don't think so. He got sacked for the same reason Unathi was suspended from Metro last year, they are human and have a right to opinions just like the rest of us, his comments were constructive and not insulting like Penny's."
Other's applauded MNet's decision to remove Mr. Cliff. Prudence Ngomane wrote: "Trust Blacks to defend and feeling sorry for racists! You get insulted and you accept the apology that comes thereafter. Are we really that stupid to believe every justification. I won't be surprised if all who are defending Gareth here, feel sorry for Penny Sparrow too."
Cliff's apology didn't go down well
In an apology posted by Mr. Cliff this week, he wrote: "Over the years I have taken a lot of abuse for my views - I’ve even received death threats. I’ve always regarded this as an exercise of freedom of speech - in a country where freedom of speech had not existed prior to 1994. In the light of #Sparrowgate and the ensuing controversy, I have come to understand that what I have been tolerating is hate speech."
He also said that he was aware that a sizeable number of angry citizens were calling for him to be pulled off the air, writing: "Calls to boycott me and even the TV show Idols came in the wake of this lynch-mob that directed their fury at me. In an effort to clarify things, I apologised for the confusion, which sadly only led to more vitriol."
The radio presenter and founder of an online station, continued: "At this moment, I feel disappointed in how the conversation sometimes gets hijacked by angry and emotional people on Twitter, who have no desire to add value. We should not be deterred from continuing the discussions we need to have to build a better South Africa."
In his post, Mr. Cliff concluded that he wanted to continue having robust debate on controversial issues affecting South Africans. "When the dust settles, I hope that we can engage constructively - tell our stories, share our ideas and LISTEN to each other. Don’t be bullied. Don’t tolerate racism. Let’s keep talking."