Gareth Cliff back as M-Net Idols judge

30 January 2016 – PAY TV channel M-Net will reinstate media personality Gareth Cliff on the Idols SA judging panel as instructed by the High Court in Johannesburg, the company said on Friday.

“As ordered by the South Gauteng High Court, and as a good corporate citizen that respects the rule of law, M-Net will reinstate Mr Cliff as a judge on season 12 of Idols SA,” spokeswoman Nondumiso Mabece said.

“We believe we did the right thing by taking Mr Cliff off the show. We remain committed to using our platforms to contribute to a united South Africa.”

Judge Caroline Nicholls ruled that a contract existed between M-Net and Cliff and instructed the pay channel to reinstate him on an interim basis.

M-Net had argued in court that it did not have a contract with Cliff as nothing was finalised. M-Net’s legal representative, Wim Trengove SC, argued that although M-Net did not believe Cliff was a racist, it contended that his controversial recent tweet had elicited a massive response and created the impression that he was racist.

Cliff had become a “poster boy for racism”, he told the court.

Dali Mpofu, for Cliff, argued that a contract existed between his client and M-Net, and that Cliff was discriminated against by the company because he was white.

M-Net terminated Cliff’s employment after he posted a comment on social media which suggested that former estate agent Penny Sparrow’s racist rant constituted freedom of speech. Sparrow had earlier posted a comment on social media calling black people on Durban’s beaches “monkeys”.

Cliff filed an urgent application on January 19 after his sacking. He wanted the court to halt the 2016 Idols SA auditions until he was reinstated or compensated R25 million for defamation and unlawful dismissal. – ANA

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