Durban - A popular Durban radio personality is facing disciplinary action after making light of the safety issues surrounding cyclists’ use of roads – soon after the deaths of two cyclists at the weekend.
Kevin Minter-Brown, a senior producer on East Coast TV and Radio, found himself on the receiving end of a backlash after he penned a post on Facebook joking about starting a running club on the N3, alluding to the illegality of using freeways for such activities.
He said: “I’m thinking of starting a running club… I know there’s plenty of other roads, but I think if there’s an opportunity to put us directly in harm’s way, then why not?”
The victims – Jared Dwyer and Richard da Silva – had been cycling on the M4 near the Broadway/ Swapo Road off-ramp when they were knocked down by alleged drunk driver Omesh Ramnarain in the early hours of Sunday.
Since then, authorities have pointed out that cycling on any freeway is illegal, an argument dismissed by most cycle clubs, who say the route is used often by cyclists and there are no signs prohibiting the practice.
Minter-Brown made the post at around 5pm on Monday, issued an apology soon afterwards and took it down about an hour later at the request of his manager at the radio station.
“I am deeply sorry. I am facing disciplinary action at the moment and will probably lose my job over this. I just hope people know that I am truly sorry,” Minter-Brown told The Mercury.
He explained that he had been doing online research for his monthly column at The Sunday Tribune, when he found that eight cyclists had been killed on that stretch of road since 2010.
In his apology, he said he found the number “shocking”.
“I just couldn’t understand why they keep using that road even though it is obviously dangerous. It made me angry. Sometimes, when you see them cycling, they are barely visible. This makes me angry too.”
He said: “That’s just my sense of humour. I didn’t think of the backlash.”
Minter-Brown called the post an “insensitive error of judgement and character”.
He said he would probably have taken a “screen grab” of the post if it had been made by someone else and he had seen it.
“People died and the comments I made hurt their friends and family,” he said.
He said in his 15 years at the radio station he had done lots of “good” charity work, and all his efforts seemed to have been wiped away by a single, “irresponsible” comment.
“To be defined by this is terrible… I haven’t slept at all. I’ve seen some of the comments people have been making online and it’s been hurtful.”
Paul Schmidt, of the Kings Park Cycling Club – the group to which Dwyer and Da Silva belonged – was angered by the comments.
“People, especially minor celebrities like Minter-Brown, need to consider the hurt and damage they can do before pushing the send button,” he said.
Others took to East Coast Radio’s Facebook page to air their grievances.
Olivia Sinclair said: “Are Minter-Brown’s recent comments on the accident on the M4 acceptable? Rather insensitive. Lost my respect.”
Liezel Smith was also livid: “What action will be taken against Minter-Brown? His recent post on Facebook is both distasteful and disgusting! People should be held accountable for their social media remarks! He is a disgrace!”
Others accepted Minter-Brown’s apology.
Chad Message said: “What we really need is for cool heads to prevail, and all road users to respect each other, and put others first. We need the local municipality/policing units and metro to monitor these drivers and drinking in public spaces.”
East Coast Radio’s general manager, Boni Mchunu said: “The matter is currently under investigation. Management will advise all stakeholders in due course.”