Naspers' stable of publications as seen on a plinth outside the company's Johannesburg office, Media Park. File picture: Independent Media

Cape Town - Naspers has apologised for its complicity with the “morally indefensible” apartheid regime as the media group celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Esmaré Weideman, the chief executive officer of Media24, said at the group’s centenary celebrations in Cape Town last night that while there was much to be proud of, Naspers also had to “hang its head in shame”.

Media24 is the South African print media arm of Naspers.

“Tonight, we celebrate our successes with pride, and acknowledge our failures with humility,” she said.

“We acknowledge complicity in a morally indefensible political regime and the hurtful way in which this played out in our newsrooms and boardrooms.”

Speaking in English and Afrikaans, Weideman told of how Conrad Sidego, the first coloured journalist at Die Burger had to walk to the Parade to go to the toilet because he wasn’t allowed to use the company’s bathroom.

Sigedo is today the mayor of Stellenbosch.

“This story records decades of suffering and humiliation,” she said, speaking in Afrikaans.

“And tonight we officially want to ask for forgiveness.”

Weideman said the group had learned from its past.

“The Media24 story is one of racial and gender transformation (and) the shedding of political and social yokes.

“We can proudly say today that freedom of speech forms the cornerstone of our company.”

Napsers traces its founding to 1915, when the Afrikaans daily Die Burger first appeared.

Today, Naspers is a global multi-million-dollar media company, with major print, internet and broadcast arms.

“Today we can proudly say that we publish for all South Africans, that we tell their stories, that they have all found a home at Media24. This, and much more, is being done to right the wrongs of the past,” said Weideman.

Naspers did not make a submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Media Hearing which took place in Joburg in 1997.

Weekend Argus