eNCA‘s senior manager Kanthan Pillay has apologised to political reporter Samkele Maseko, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), e-Media Investments and the public for his now-infamous “rats” tweet.
In a statement on Thursday afternoon, Pillay said, “I hereby express my unreserved apology to all that were offended by my irresponsible and ill-conceived statement on Twitter, posted on Tuesday, 17 December, 2019.
“I deeply regret the statement I made and retract it in its entirety.”
‘Action taken in haste’
He said posting the tweet was an action he took “in haste and without thinking,” thus placing his employer, colleagues, family and friends “in a most embarrassing position.”
Pillay added, “I accept that my actions were irresponsible and unbecoming of a Senior Manager in any newsroom.
“The statement I made is unacceptable and rightfully rebuked by all concerned. In the next few days, the matter will be further discussed and investigated, and whatever the outcome will be binding on me.
“I regret having been drawn into a Twitter war and I ask for your understanding with the knowledge that I [am] deeply remorseful of my actions.”
The infamous ‘rats’ tweet
Pillay sparked controversy on Tuesday when he tweeted, “Rats swimming towards a sinking ship. #EarlyXmasGift.”
He posted it on the same say Maseko announced his abrupt departure from eNCA. Maseko later tweeted that had Pillay refused to allow him to serve a 30-day notice period upon handing in his resignation letter.
On Wednesday, he accused Pillay of throwing him out of the eNCA building “like a dog” and “censoring political talk.
Maseko tweeted, “Do you want me to speak about how you instructed that @MYANC MP Bongani Bongo be censored by removing all the allegations he made at Minister Pravin Gordhan?”
Other prominent figures in the media industry, such as radio presenters Thando Thabethe and DJ Fresh, also accused Pillay of being “arrogant” and “a bully.”
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) also called for a boycott of eNCA in the wake of the allegations.
The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) issued a statement expressing concern at “allegations of editorial interference in the newsroom at eNCA.”