I will never forgive Kanthan Pillay, says Samkele Maseko

By Bongani hans Time of article published Dec 21, 2019

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SENIOR political journalist Samkelo Maseko said yesterday he would not forgive his former boss at eNCA, Kanthan Pillay, who called him a rat after Maseko’s resignation to join a competitor.

The comment came after eNCA announced that it had parted ways with immediate effect with Pillay, who was the 24-hour director of news, following outrage and condemnation over a tweet he posted.

Pillay had also been accused of censoring news after he had suspended another journalist, Khayelihle Khumalo, for tweeting about the EFF elective conference despite the station’s decision not to continue covering the event.

eNCA had at the weekend pulled its news team out of the EFF elective conference claiming to be sympathising with Daily Maverick which had been banned from covering the event.

In a statement, eNCA said it ended its relationship with Pillay after conducting an intense overnight investigation and consultation.

“Although he was acting in an individual capacity and his posting was unsolicited, he was nonetheless a senior member of staff and the channel believes there was no room for any other outcome and that damage control was imperative.”

It also said serious allegations had also been levelled at eNCA about Pillay’s censorship of stories and his management style.

“The channel takes the allegations of censorship very seriously. To that end eNCA is co-operating fully with the SA National Editors Forum (Sanef), which has requested clarity,” the channel said, adding that it would be appointing an external expert to investigate claims.

Editor-in-chief Jeremy Maggs said: “All news organisations have one currency and that is credibility. It’s clear this negative attention has adversely affected eNCA’s reputation and credibility.”

Maseko told Independent Media that he would never forgive Pillay. 

“You can’t forgive someone who undermines you racially until that person is remorseful enough to approach you personally. Until then unfortunately I can’t,” he said.

Pillay had been accused of comparing Maseko to a “rat swimming toward a sinking ship”, an apparent reference to the SABC.

Maseko said his treatment by Pillay was an example of the suffering of black people who had “for far too long” been subjected to racial slurs.

“This time around this comes to an end - as Steven Bantu Biko once said, it’s time for the black men to do everything for themselves. The time is now for us to take the baton and fight racism in the legacy of Biko.”

He said he was not the only one who had exposed Pillay’s conduct in the eNCA newsroom.

“It’s about the eNCA staff standing up and defending journalism, independence and ethics. It’s about their future, them working in a free environment and able to express themselves, reporting fairly and getting all sides of the story for the viewers at home.”

He accused Pillay of being a politician masquerading as a journalist, “directing political discourse and defending certain politicians”.

Pillay was formerly the leader of the Capitalist Party of South Africa, which contested, but did not win a single seat in the last general elections.

Sanef secretary-general Moipone Malefane said the forum welcomed eNCA’s decision to fire Pillay.

“We’re hoping that this will now restore the credibility of eNCA.

“It’s unacceptable that a leader of a political party should ever be given an editorial role in a newsroom,” said Malefane.

She encouraged journalists who find themselves subjected to harassment to approach Sanef’s Inquiry into Media Ethics and Credibility.

Politics Bureau

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