Jacaranda FM: 'Tumi Morake Is Not Racist'

Station speaks out about "racism" furore for the first time.
Tumi Morake and Martin Bester.
Tumi Morake and Martin Bester.
Jacaranda FM

Embattled radio station Jacaranda FM has written a letter to its advertisers in which it states that the station firmly believes that its breakfast show co-host Tumi Morake's apartheid analogy had not intended to insult any racial demographic and was "intended only to express her view of the apartheid period".

"In short, [Morake's comment's] are not racist and do not constitute hate speech as has been alleged," station manager Kevin Fine said in the letter.

"Tumi's views as stated in the show are also not in contravention of any provision of the broadcasting code of conduct," Fine added.

This is the first time the station has responded to a storm involving a segment of mostly white, Afrikaans-speaking listeners -- backed by trade union Solidartiy -- who believe that Morake's comments were racist.

Yesterday, Pretoria-based furniture shop Eric Barnard Meubels confirmed that it had pulled advertising worth R100,000 from the station, citing Morake's so-called offensive utterances towards white people as its reason.

Eric Barnard Meubels' Marius Barnard said they would not be advertising with the station because it "gets involved with politics and mix it with business".

"Comments made by that lady [Tumi Morake] are very racial and political... I cannot associate with a station that takes one side," Barnard said.

"By taking away the advertising, we are saying enough is enough," he added.

Last week, Morake made an analogy that upset many of the station's white listeners.

Morake was having a conversation with her co-host, Martin Bester, which ended with her making an analogy about South Africa's transition to democracy.

"It's like a child whose bicycle was taken forcefully away from him and then you say to the bully, 'no, no, no, share the bike together, don't be like that,'" Morake said.

"We believe in free speech and recognise that when it concerns sensitive issues in South Africa, this can be difficult to protect," Fine said in the letter.

The station also expressed its dismay about a portion of its listeners "who are using this situation to position Tumi's viewpoint in a negative light".

Since the incident, various groups have been formed to boycott the station.

The organiser of one of the "Boikot [boycott] Jacaranda" Facebook pages, Mariaan Knox, said starting the page was the "only way for us [Boikot Jacaranda] to successfully voice our grievances".

Knox started the page last week Tuesday, which led to another Facebook page that has to date attracted about 29,000 people.

"I think I talk not only for myself, but for the majority of South Africans –- there [are] double standards in this country regarding voicing racial issues," she said.

The station also acknowledges that race is a sensitive issue but however also believe in free speech.

"We believe in free speech and recognise that when it concerns sensitive issues in South Africa, this can be difficult to protect," Fine assured advertisers.

The station apologised to its clients and stakeholders who were getting drawn into the controversy. Some of the station's biggest advertisers include cellphone network CellC and car brands BMW and Isuzu.

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