Gareth Cliff to consider legal option after Idols firing: report

Gareth Cliff will not be part of the judging panel in the new season of Idols SA. Photo: Gallo / Waldo Swiegers

JOHANNESBURG - South Africans have on Saturday woken up to the news that Gareth Cliff has been fired from Idols after being embroiled in a race debate on social media.

Earlier this week, Cliff had Twitter on the attack for his comments regarding the post put up by estate agent, Penny Sparrow.

Sparrow referred to black people as monkeys. When the question was posed on whether hate speech on social media could be criminalised, Cliff got into a debate about free speech.

Calls to boycott Idols were immediately thrashed about, with M-Net releasing a statement saying his future work was under review.

Cliff later apologised, wrote a blog post asking for constructive criticism, and held a debate on race on CliffCentral with DJ Fresh and advocate Dali Mpofu on Friday.

Cliff's next step

At the time of publishing this article, Cliff had remained mum on social media. 

His team has refused to comment on the matter, but The Juice has it under good authority that he is considering his legal options.

Although contracts had not been signed, Cliff's agent, Rina Broomberg, earlier this week confirmed to The Juice that he had been asked to be part of the judging panel and had accepted.

The Juice understands that it is standard procedure to only sign contracts as auditions begin, and that Cliff has never entered a season of Idols with a signed contract, only written negotiations.

Double standard?

As news of Gareth's firing hits the public, questions have already been posed regarding a perceived double standard. 

In December, fellow judge Somizi Mhlongo was also embroiled in a race issue that garnered massive public backlash.

The controversy began after Mhlongo posted a message on social media when calls for President Jacob Zuma to step down emerged.

The calls came after the finance minister blunder, which saw Zuma replace Nhlanhla Nene with David van Rooyen, only to later appoint Pravin Gordhan in the same position in a matter of days.

The move saw the country lose millions of rand, while investor confidence dipped even further.

The hashtag #ZumaMustFall emerged, with planned protests taking place on 16 December.

Mhlongo posted pictures of people wearing T-shirts bearing the old South African flag on his Instagram account with the following message.

It later emerged that the pictures were old ones being bandied about on social media as images from the protest.

Somizi apologised, but public figures including Mark Pilgrim were not happy.

The two later went onto Talk Radio 702 to speak about the confusion after both were trending for days.

- The Juice

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