Johannesburg - Kanthan Pillay, eNCA’s head of news, has come under fire following the resignation of political journalist Samkele Maseko from the news channel this week.
Broadcasters and journalists are speaking out in damning terms about how allegedly toxic Pillay was. Pillay joined eNCA shortly after the 2019 general elections when his doomed political party, the Capitalist Party of South Africa, failed to get off the ground by securing a single seat in Parliament. It also failed to secure seats in the provincial legislatures around the country.
The leader of the party which was well known for its purple cow logo, hit a nerve when he appeared to refer to Maseko as a ‘rat’ in a tweet he has since deleted without apologising.
Pillay tweeted that rats were swimming towards a sinking ship, apparently in reference to Maseko, who is understood to be joining the financially troubled SABC in the new year.
Listen here and listen good, you may be pulling strings there at @eNCA but you will refer to your family as Rats and not Black African Children. Settle your political scores using eNCA but disrespect us for dumping ship led by a failed politician. https://t.co/qnKkpnGoX4— #TheLordOfTheMedia (@samkelemaseko) December 18, 2019
Maseko was frog-marched out of the eNCA building on Tuesday after resigning on the same day. Pillay has since deactivated his Twitter account after an avalanche of public disdain expressed towards him, some by notable former employees including DJ Fresh, Thando Thabethe, Nickolaus Bauer and Nontobeko Sibisi, among others.
Meanwhile, the South African National Editors Forum also said Maseko would make a submission to the Media Ethics and Credibility Inquiry after he alleged Pillay was censoring journalists and accused him of being bias and unethical.
“SANEF will, therefore, write to eNCA management to request a meeting and to seek clarity on Mr. Pillay’s position. The allegations of censorship against a senior editorial executive at eNCA go against the principles that SANEF holds dear.
“SANEF, therefore, calls on eNCA to immediately get to the bottom of these allegations against Pillay.
“We welcome the fact that Maseko has agreed to approach Judge Kathleen Satchwell and the Media Ethics and Credibility Inquiry to discuss these issues further,” said SANEF in a statement.
The organisation called on editors, newsroom executives and media owners to guard against editorial interference in newsrooms and for journalists to be allowed to continue with their work in a responsible and ethical manner.
Below are some of the notable tweets after Maseko called out Pillay on Wednesday.
DJ Fresh: “His becoming hands on at YFM was the reason I jumped ship, and why it was so easy to leave!!! He is not a nice person at all... #PeopleQuitManagersNotBrands”
Thando Thabethe: "Didn’t get to serve my notice at Y or even do 1 more show after letting them know I got offered a show on 5, got told leave immediately!!! Further got told to leave Club808 immediately".
Didn’t get to serve my notice at Y or even do 1 more show after letting them know I got offered a show on 5, got told leave immediately!!! Further got told to leave Club808 immediately https://t.co/ku4JHQjXzd— Thando Thabooty (@Thando_Thabethe) December 18, 2019
Nickolaus Bauer: “I’d take a rat with principles & dignity over a purple cow without a cause or any decorum, you bitter little man. It’s thoroughly disappointing you sit back and allow this to happen @maggsonmedia @SallyBurdettSA @jody_jacobs @PatrickConroySA”
I’d take a rat with principles & dignity over a purple cow without a cause or any decorum, you bitter little man.— Nickolaus Bauer (@NickolausBauer) December 18, 2019
It’s thoroughly disappointing you sit back and allow this to happen @maggsonmedia @SallyBurdettSA @jody_jacobs @PatrickConroySA https://t.co/vL6zTRCVhR
Nontobeko Sibisi: “I’ll also speak for myself! He’s a heartless arrogant bully - that likes to exercise the power of god, he gets a kick from making people squirm. The Absolute Pits Fresh!”
I’ll also speak for myself! He’s a heartless arrogant bully - that likes to exercise the power of god, he gets a kick from making people squirm. The Absolute Pits Fresh! https://t.co/zfUmXfurBl— uNontobeko wakaSibisi (@Nontobek0Sibisi) December 19, 2019
I’m sorry Sam! That man is the devil himself. He “chaired” my DC hearing - unprofessional, unethical, underhanded, crude, vile. He does their dirty firing work. He has killed so many careers “just cause he can” - No black person deserves to work under that man. https://t.co/d3FVUFD0Ss— uNontobeko wakaSibisi (@Nontobek0Sibisi) December 19, 2019
Kanthan has become a liability to ENCA. Samkele is a fine journalist and not deserving of such callous treatment. In fact no journalist deserves that. Censorship is anathema to the basic principles of journalism. As journalists we have an ethical obligation to be fair & balanced— Sbu Ngalwa (@sbungalwa) December 19, 2019
The list is on the rise: Aldrin, Khayelihle, Samkelo.... all abused by ENCA.— Mbuyiseni Ndlozi (@MbuyiseniNdlozi) December 19, 2019
Why is Vuyo Mvoko silent? Who is next?
The very same man, Kanthan Pillay, who was head of Capitalist Party which contested for the elections in May 2019 & failed to secure a seat, is one escorting Samkelo Maseko in his capacity as ENCA head of news. There are a lot of politicians masquerading as journalists.— Dr Man's Not Barry Roux (@AdvBarryRoux) December 18, 2019