Ferial Haffajee says she will seek legal advice after Eric Miyeni's scathing comments about her. Photo: Boxer Ngwenya
Ferial Haffajee says she will seek legal advice after Eric Miyeni's scathing comments about her. Photo: Boxer Ngwenya

Miyeni column halted amid furore

Time of article published Aug 1, 2011

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Johannesburg - City Press editor Ferial Haffajee on Monday said she was planning to sue Sowetan columnist Eric Miyeni after he called her “an agent for white capitalists” in a scathing column.

“Oh I definitely plan to sue... I haven't had a chance yet to speak with my lawyer, but I will seek legal advice,” she said.

“I am quite shocked because he's someone I looked up to and admired... since the 80s. He's always been a thought leader.”

In his most recent column titled “Haffajee does it for white masters”, Miyeni says that “in the 80s she’d (Haffajee) probably have had a burning tyre around her neck”.

“Who the devil is she anyway if not a black snake in the grass, deployed by white capital to sow discord among blacks?”

Haffajee said she took these comments quite seriously.

“You get writers, like at the Daily Maverick... who are funny and critical without being defamatory... or hate speech. There is a way of going about this,” she said.

Miyeni’s column comes in the wake of a number of stories published by the City Press questioning ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema's lifestyle and finances.

On Sunday, the paper reported that Malema paid more than half the R3.6-million purchase price for a Sandton house in cash.

Last week it reported Malema was using the Ratanang Family Trust to receive money from politicians, businessmen, mayors and others, allegedly in exchange for facilitating government contracts. The league's officials have however denied this and said the trust was used to support charities.

The Sowetan newspaper said on Monday evening that it had discontinued Miyeni's column with immediate effect.

“Eric Miyeni expresses robust views shared by many South Africans. This is why he has continued writing a column in the Sowetan newspaper,” said Avusa editor-in-chief Mondli Makhanya and Sowetan acting editor Len Maseko in a statement.

“However, the expression of these views should not be accompanied by the promotion or condonation of violence against those who hold differing views.”

Makhanya and Maseko said Miyeni's latest column crossed the line between robust debate and the condonation of violence.

ANCYL spokesperson Floyd Shivambu said Miyeni should not be “intimidated, nor demoralised” because he expressed his thoughts openly.

“The ANC Youth League appreciates that ultimately, someone had the courage to tell some journalist where to get off, and we are grateful,” Shivambu said in a statement. - Sapa

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