Media personality Gareth Cliff will know by Friday morning whether he will be reinstated as an Idols judge, following his axing by broadcaster M-Net over a tweet he posted amid the Penny Sparrow racism saga.
This, after the South Gauteng High Court handed down judgement in his case against M-Net for defamation of character, in which Cliff – represented by legal heavyweight Dali Mpofu – also asked to be reinstated.
“Judgement is expected in court by 10am,” Eric Mabuza, who is part of Mpofu’s team, said.
READ MORE > Gareth Cliff ‘cannot afford more mistakes’
Auditions begin on Friday but the judges are expected to be there on the Wednesday the 3rd, he added.
During court proceedings Mpofu, for Cliff, made clear that Cliff was not a racist. He added that this matter was about the enforcement of contractual rights, Constitutional right, and rights to equality.
Cliff had responded to a poll on Twitter on whether or not racist social media posts be criminalised. He tweeted: “People don’t understand free speech at all,” and then later apologised.
He is suing the broadcaster for R25 million for damages and defamation if he is not reinstated.
“The conduct of M-Net was against Constitutional values (and) the existence of a contract is the primary issue,” Mpofu said in court.
“In a nutshell, what we have here is a situation where there is an egregious violation… there can be no other fair and just outcome, to tell the respondent that when you conclude agreements you must stick to them.
“Now the truth has come out that all they were protecting was commercial and business interest,” Mpofu said of M-Net.
But in the public announcement, however, they stated how “hurt they were” by his tweet, he added.
“We want to be there on Friday,”
But Advocate Wim Trengove for M-Net told the court that while M-Net may agree Cliff is not racist, has become a “poster boy” for racism.
“What M-Net says is that your view and conduct has received response from large constituencies that you are a poster boy for racism,” he said.
It also could not be that M-Net “must” have him as an Idols ambassador, Trengove added.
His tweet was widely understood to defend Sparrow’s statement, he said, adding that very soon thereafter, Cliff’s M-Net association became embroiled in this debate.
“M-Net cannot be compelled to have (as) an Idols judge someone who has employed this position that he is a racist.”
What M-Net had done was respond to public calls that the show is boycotted, he added.
Mpofu in rebuttal however, said only six people were found calling for a boycott of the show.