Report reaching us states that Gareth Cliff would be suing M-Net for wrongful dismissal. According to the report, the ex-idols judge would be suing the South African broadcaster firm the sum of R25m for their act.
Cliff was dismissed as judge on the reality singing competition after a Twitter frenzy over his comments about KwaZulu-Natal estate agent Penny Sparrow. Cliff said his comments constituted free speech and as such, he should not be sanctioned for exercise his free will.
On Friday January 8, M- Net Announced that Cliff will not be part of the judging panel for Idols SA Season 12, which is due to commence with countrywide auditions at the end of January.
Cliff’s comments enraged Twitter, some claimed he had always been racist, while DJ Sbu came to his defence saying Cliff was “the last person anyone should call racist”.
The statement released by M-Net explaining why Gareth will not be on the Idols SA judging panel reads:
“Over the last few months following Unathi’s indiscretions on social media, we have been in discussions with our judges, presenters and talent to sensitise them to the risks of using social media. All the Idols SA judges were reminded that M-Net holds all brand ambassadors and employees to the highest standards in our ongoing efforts to promote and build a modern and inclusive South Africa.
Unfortunately we then had to deal with Somizi’s inappropriate comments and following the latest issue, we have now implemented a zero tolerance policy for all social media posts that go against the spirit of nation-building. This policy will apply to everyone associated with our brands going forward.
We do not believe that Gareth is a racist but his response showed a lack of empathy for our history and it is important to differentiate between freedom of speech and hate speech. Penny Sparrow’s comments were hateful. Hate speech is not applicable with regard to freedom of speech.”
However, in reaction to this, Cliff’s Lawyer, Eric Mabuza said M-Net did not follow due process in dismissing his client. Therefore, Cliff will have to be reinstated as a judge and be part of the new season of the singing competition, “He is suing for R25-million, including for defamation of character,” he said.
Eyebrows were raised over the fact that Cliff’s co-judge, Somizi, did not get the boot after he was involved in a race row just a few weeks before.
Shortly after news first broke that he would no longer be part of the TV show, Cliff said “To be fired over this whole mess does seem unfair. M-Net has said as much. They said I’m not a racist”.
M- Net had however not responded to this latest report.