Ferial Haffajee. Picture: © Sunday Times/SIMON MATHEBULA
Ferial Haffajee. Picture: © Sunday Times/SIMON MATHEBULA

ONE of the four former City Press staff members who reached a settlement with their former editor, Ferial Haffajee, for allegedly calling them racists‚ said all he wanted was a public apology.

Former Media24 staff members Muntu Vilakazi‚ Mawande Mvumvu‚ Denvor de Wee and Khanyiso Tshwaku‚ who have all since left the media house‚ sued the organisation and Haffajee for R3m each.

De Wee said that for him‚ the settlement was not about getting compensation, but rather justice.

"Chief‚ I want to write a book about transformation and part of the settlement clause is that we are not allowed to speak about this incident. Haffajee and Media24 claim to be champions of freedom of speech but why will they then put a confidentiality clause in an agreement?" he asked.

"This is worse than what happened with the journalists at SABC except that we got money to shut up. For me it was never about the money. I told them they must remove that clause but that was not entertained‚" said De Wee, who left Media24 two years ago.

The former chief photographer said all he wanted was a public apology on at least the same platform.

The case was set down to be heard on Thursday at the High Court in Johannesburg, but a settlement was reached between the parties last week.

However‚ Ettiene van der Merwe, who represented the four staff members, would not be drawn into details of the settlement.

"The matter has become settled so the case has been withdrawn in terms of the settlement. I unfortunately can’t discuss that‚" said Van der Merwe, of Phillip Silver and Associates.

The dispute began in 2013 after a tense staff meeting in which concerns were raised about racism and transformation. Haffajee followed up with an e-mail saying she objected to the "naked racism" on display at the meeting.

Haffajee went on leave after she sent a letter to staff in which she said she would not "walk on eggshells or edit around false perceptions and real racism".

The letter went viral on social media and the newspaper’s management announced that there would be an internal probe into allegations of racism.

Last week‚ The Star reported that Haffajee had denied defaming the four former staffers and that she had apologised to them for singling them out for criticism.

TMG Digital