702, your apology was awful, says Redi Tlhabi

FILE PICTURE: Redi Tlhabi. Picture: Petros Rapule

Calling for the social media producer to resign means the station gets to ‘escape scrutiny’, argues the former presenter at the station.

Former talk radio station 702 presenter Redi Tlhabi has, in a series of tweets, criticised her former employer for the “racist” tweet on Sunday.

The radio station in partnership with MTN held a Walk the Talk campaign on Sunday in which people walked long distances against gender-based violence and the killing of women and children.

The station took pictures of the people partaking in the walk and shared these on its social media platforms – only that one of its tweets appeared to pit dogs against kids.

“#MTN702Walk Aaaw! Dog VS baby … who’s cuter? Go ahead and evoke those broody feelings,” tweeted the station, along with pictures of dogs and black babies with their parents.

Following criticism, the station apologised for the “offensive” tweet.

“We apologise unreservedly for an offensive tweet published today.

“You have every right to be angry and offended. We strive to uphold the highest standards in our communication with you. Our mission is to communicate in a manner that builds social cohesion and a sense of community. In this instance we failed.

“We offended South Africans and are sorry. This does not meet the standards that we expect from ourselves,” it said in a statement that was attributed to a “Staff reporter”.

Tlhabi said the station’s apology was “awful” and failed to take responsibility for its actions, even though a black social media producer was the one who sent out the tweet.

Following calls for the social media producer to to resign, Tlhabi said it was not the solution as that means the station gets to “escape scrutiny”.  It was the station’s duty to do checks on junior staff.

“You have filled newsroom with young South Africans, mainly black. They deserve opportunities, but you have a duty towards them.

“Leaving young producers to navigate complex SA issues; identity, subconscious prejudice etc, without checks and balances = wrong,” said Tlhabi.

The station needed to hire older and experienced senior to keep the junior staff in check.

“Your apology was awful. Vacuous, glib, no content or sincere interrogation of subliminal messages. Just sorry move on. NO. Fix it.”

She, however, commended the station for being one of the institutions that allowed employees to publicly criticise it without fear of losing their jobs.

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