Johannesburg - It might have been a tweet sent in jest, but it’s one that has come to haunt highly acclaimed political journalist Carien du Plessis.
At exactly 11am on Thursday, Du Plessis tweeted a picture of the Rustenburg News Café captioned “Seems Rusty News Cafe will be a choice hangout for pantypreneurs and tenderpreneurs at this weekend’s #ANC104 bash.”
The joke was lost on the ANC, with officials immediately cancelling Du Plessis’s accreditation to their 104-year celebration in Rustenburg.
As if that were not enough, they decided that Du Plessis will be banned from covering any future party event.
ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa did not mince his words, describing her as a racist who had insinuated that the black women at this weekend’s celebration would be there to have sex with senior party officials.
“ANC does not encourage racism, and Du Plessis exposed herself as a racist. She pretended to love black people all these years in the media, even there at The Star, whereas she was harbouring hatred against blacks. For her to describe women who will be coming to the ANC celebrations as pantypreneurs... that’s racist because the majority of the women who will be attending are black and will be attending for historical reasons.
“She would not say that about women in the DA, even though she would still be in the wrong. She is not the first, she is adding to a number of racists in the DA,” an angry Kodwa said.
Asked what he thought Du Plessis might have meant by “pantypreneur”, Kodwa said: “She meant they are loose in terms of behaviour. We will withdraw her accreditation to future ANC events.”
Kodwa said they were also considering taking action against Du Plessis for her “derogatory remarks that dehumanised women”.
On Twitter, Du Plessis was berated by many people who stated that they were not happy with the use of the word “pantypreneurs”, forcing her to apologise.
“I realise the term pantypreneur’ is problematic. Thank you for the engagement, and my unqualified apologies for using it in my tweet,” she tweeted.
I realise the term “pantypreneur” is problematic. Thank you for the engagement and my unqualified apologies for using it in my tweet.
Speaking to The Star, Du Plessis said that saying the word was “problematic” did not mean she was trying to justify her use of it.
Despite Kodwa saying her accreditation had been revoked, Du Plessis said she had not heard anything in that regard.
“I have not received any call. Actually, I have been on a deadline and I am right now trying to go through everything. I have not had a call from Kodwa and I have not been informed about not covering future ANC events,” she said.
On Kodwa calling her a racist, Du Plessis said: “He is entitled to his opinion.”
People on Twitter were divided on this issue. While some stated that Du Plessis was racist, others disagreed. @BoyceMathebula said: “I don’t think @carienduplessis is a racist, however I do think these distasteful jokes about black people should stop.” Another user, @mashiyanef, said it should not be about colour: “We know Carien is no racist.”
Others were deeply offended, including @NzingaQ, who said it was not funny for Du Plessis to reduce all women at the event to prostitutes.
For one man, @mbindwane, Du Plessis’s tweet hit closer to home: “I’m crying cause my family females are there, she calls them whores!!” he tweeted.
Almost four years ago, EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu had to apologise to Du Plessis for referring to her as stupid and a “white b***h” in SMSes.
Du Plessis had charged him with hate speech in the Equality Court after an SMS exchange between them in May 2010.
In the SMS he wrote: “You must learn to respect people. I don’t comment on ANCYL issues and please stop being stupid... I wouldn’t want to earn respect from white bitches... so dream on.”
In the settlement, Shivambu conceded his behaviour had been contrary to the values of the ANC, which had fought hard to establish the principles of non-sexism in society.
Afterwards, Du Plessis had said: “I am glad he has apologised and relieved that it’s come to an end. It is a vindication for the profession of journalism.”