MEDIA STATEMENT: Eric Miyeni is not the first columnist to be fired for making intemperate comments and he will not be the last. As SANEF, we defend his right to write what he likes, with the proviso that it fall within the bounds of what the Constitution allows.
Miyeni’s references to City Press editor Ferial Haffajee as a “black snake in the grass” and someone who would “probably have had a burning tyre around her neck” in the 1980s in our view crosses this line.
Hate speech and incitement to violence are not protected by the Constitution, but as Haffajee has indicated her intention to sue, this will be for a court to decide. In writing what he did, Miyeni was exercising what he believed to be his right to be critical of the newspaper’s investigations into ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema’s financial arrangements and as such bears primary responsibility for any slur on Haffajee’s character.
We have noted the fact that Miyeni’s column has been discontinued and await the outcome of Avusa’s inquiry into how the offending column made it into print.
SANEF would like to express its solidarity with Haffajee. This is not the first time that an editor has come under vicious attack, and it will also not be the last time.