Battle over Happy's photo for campus radio ad

happy Pretoria News Photo: Tsabeng Nthite, Pretoria News

By Tsabeng Nthite

The use of Happy Sindane's picture to promote Tuks FM, the University of Pretoria's radio station, has angered some students, who say the boy is being mocked by the "insensitive" posters.

Since Monday morning, a large number of posters have been put up, displaying a blindfolded Happy. The wording of the poster is: "Want to find Jou Ma?". "Jou Ma" (Your Mother) is the radio station's slogan.

"This ridicules the sensitive nature of the social problems that Happy might be facing, and it is degrading to Happy and his family," said the chairperson of the Sasco Alliance on the campus, Mlimandlela Ndamase.

The Sasco Alliance has described the poster as degrading, inhuman and insensitive not only to Happy, but also to the general public, especially people who may be in similar situations.

Happy made headlines earlier this year after turning up at Bronkhorstspruit police station, claiming he was a white boy who had been abducted as a small child and raised in various black communities. His true identity remains a mystery.

Radio Tuks management disagrees that the poster is offensive. The thinking is that the radio station acts as a mother figure to many students, especially those who come from far away. The poster is aimed at attracting more listeners.

"Jou Ma acts as a mother to our students. I could not think of a better example than the Happy Sindane case. We have covered Happy's story from the beginning and we are in full support of him finding his parents.

"We want students to listen to Tuks FM, which acts as a mother to its listeners," said Rian van Heerden, station manager for Tuks FM.

This is not the first time the radio station has displayed on campus light-hearted posters featuring public figures.

"No one has the right to play marketing or political games with the feelings of other people, particularly children. This poster, together with the previous ones over the years, is an insult," said Ndamase.

To resolve the matter the Sasco Alliance will be approaching Tuks FM, together with management at the university, with its demands regarding this issue.

It is demanding that the posters be immediately withdrawn and that Happy, his family and the public get an unconditional apology.

"We are of the opinion that Tuks FM should make a public donation to any charity organisation of Sindane's choice," added Ndamase.


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