Columns 11.9.2018 05:07 pm

No, Meokgo Matuba, that’s not how an apology works

Picture: Twitter/Qaanitah Hunter

Picture: Twitter/Qaanitah Hunter

The headline said the ANCWL secretary-general was sorry. The story suggested something far weirder was going on.

When EWN reported on Tuesday that ANC Women’s League secretary-general Meokgo Matuba had apologised to Sunday Times journalist Qaanitah Hunter for the fact that a picture of a gun was sent to her from Matuba’s phone, I had to do a double take.

Wait a minute, I said. That isn’t an apology. I know what apologies look like (though my fiancee would probably disagree) … and that is not one.

In case you’ve somehow missed it, Hunter had reported over the weekend that so-called Zuma loyalists Ace Magashule and Supra Mahumapelo had met at a Durban hotel to plot the overthrow of President Cyril Ramaphosa, and she saw Matuba among them.

There have been numerous denials and much outcry since then.

It was all made far more sensational when Hunter received a photo of a very camp-looking pistol from Matuba’s number prior to the story being published. Hunter tweeted a screenshot of it right after the Sunday Times hit the newsstands, no doubt helping to push sales a bit.

It looks like the kind of gun Elton John would pick on a night out with cross-dressing heist suspects robbing a shipment of pink ostrich feathers from Oudtshoorn.

It’s nevertheless more than a little ominous to be sent a picture of a gun – any gun – from an ANC member who was recently in a province as famous for its political murders as it is for its sharks, bananas and topless maidens.

It’s since emerged that Matuba probably was in Durban, making her denials of everything else even more questionable.

Unbelievably, Matuba tried to convince the public that she knew nothing about where this gun picture had come from, since she supposedly shares her phone with “many people” and so can’t really say which of these people may have sent Hunter the gun pic.

Really? The only people I know, personally, who ever let anyone other than themselves use their phones are parents, and then it’s for playing video games and watching cartoons. So if Matuba has a kid who accidentally and very coincidentally sent a journalist a gun picture, she should maybe have a word with little Matuba Junior about why it’s not nice to do these things. Or just put a passcode on her phone.

Or – and here’s an earth-shattering thought – maybe just admit that she very stupidly attempted to intimidate a journalist.

Anyway, back to that non-apology apology.

Matuba reportedly told EWN today: “Actually no, I didn’t send a gun to Qaanitah. If it’s her take that I sent the gun to intimidate her, my sincere apologies.”

So Matuba is still maintaining that it didn’t happen, and that somehow a picture of a white-and-turquoise handgun went from her phone to Hunter’s phone via a process of – what? – divine dissemination? And if Hunter happens to have a “take” on the picture that may lead her to conclude that it was sent to her to intimidate her, then Matuba would find herself being “sincere” in her apology about it.

I couldn’t even think of anything less sincere. A benefit concert for beef cows with Ronald McDonald playing bass guitar for Morrissey would make more sense to me.

So I’m not sure what possessed EWN to think that this kind of comment justified the headline, “MATUBA APOLOGISES TO ‘SUNDAY TIMES’ JOURNALIST OVER GUN PICTURE”.

The real headline should probably have been: “MATUBA TELLS JOURNALIST SHE’S SORRY THE JOURNALIST HAS A TAKE ON A PICTURE THAT WASN’T ACTUALLY SENT TO HER BUT SOMEHOW STILL APPEARED ON HER PHONE THAT LED HER TO CONCLUDE IT WAS INTIMIDATION”.

Yeah. She’s sorry, right. So sorry.

If Matuba ever sends me a picture of a gun after reading this column, I plan to already have my picture of a Kevlar vest saved on my phone, which I will send back in response.

But, you know, not a boring straight Kevlar vest. A nice fun violet one, with lilac sparkly bits, and a cool catchphrase like “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” on the front.

Citizen digital editor Charles Cilliers

 

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