Sihle Manda and Thami Magubane

Almost two months after first gracing the airwaves on East Coast Radio, fast-talking DJ Phat Joe will receive the “keys to the city” from Mayor Zandile Gumede today.

City spokeswoman Tozi Mthethwa said the exercise was “simply a public relations exercise to create hype around a famous personality”.

The honour did not equate to the more elevated “freedom of the city” as that would require recipients to be approved by city councillors, as in the cases of Nelson Mandela and America’s UN ambassador Andrew Young. It was not the case in this instance.

The Mercury sought clarity yesterday what process the city had followed in awarding the honour and why Phat Joe had received it.

Mthethwa said the event was to officially welcome the DJ to the city.

“As you know, Phat Joe presents the rush-hour show on East Coast Radio and is also a famous television personality. We aim to tap into his audience in the hope that he will promote brand Durban, given his large following. We will be officially welcoming Phat Joe to the city,” she said.

Mthethwa said the city would use the event to wish the radio station a happy 20th birthday.

Gumede will also take the opportunity to thank the radio station for community outreach initiative partnerships over the past 20 years.

Political analyst Daniel Silke said the keys to the city was an honour often bestowed on an individual who had made a particular impact on that city and in recognition of that individual’s talent and contribution.

Silke it was not normally a frivolous honour. “I hope that the city officials have considered that.”

He said it was often reserved for sports people and others who had achieved something worthy for themselves and their community. “It could be someone who has created a lot of jobs or who elevated the city to a global level.”

Another analyst, Protas Madlala, said he knew only of the freedom of the city.

“Even that is given to people who have made a significant impact within the community, people who work for the community. I am not sure what he (Phat Joe) has done for Durban.”

In August a Durban mother started a petition to have Phat Joe removed from the drive-time slot, complaining about excessive sexual content and “racist” comments.

Last month the controversial DJ got on the wrong side of protesting students after saying they were “the worst people in the world”. Phat Joe later met a group of students at UKZN and explained that he was referring only to those who embraced violence and damaged property during protests.

The DJ said then that he did not speak as an authority on a lot of the issues.

“I am more of a comedian. So what I do is I use a lot of irony and comedy to deal with difficult issues. There is no doubt that there was a difficult issue that day.”