SABC axes Miyeni
by Candice Bailey
Controversial SAfm presenter Eric Miyeni has been booted from the airwaves for allegedly inciting xenophobia and using hate speech during one of his shows.
Miyeni was taken off air last week for discussing black-on-black violence and the role of refugees in their host countries in a show broadcast nearly five weeks ago.
He hosted the hugely popular SAfm night-time show Eric M After Dark from 7pm to 9pm daily and has spoken to everyone from Caiphus Semenya and Letta Mbulu to Zola Budd, Desmond Tutu, Denis Beckett and Vusi Mahlasela.
Miyeni this week told the Saturday Star: "I am alleged to have fuelled xenophobia and promoted violence. That is what he wrote to me in a letter – that I breached the SABC's editorial policy and broke the contract."I wrote back saying I don't know what I've done wrong. And then they wrote back to me saying that, based on my response, I won't be scheduled."
The contentious show had been inspired after Miyeni was struck by a foreigner working in a restaurant three days earlier. Miyeni then used the incident to open a topic of discussion.
SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago confirmed that Miyeni was no longer scheduled for shows, but would not give details.
"We are not in a position to go into details. But an incident happened and the SABC felt he had gone against his contract obligations.
"The decision was taken through the station manager."
Kganyago said that if Miyeni was not happy with the decision, he could take it up with the group CEO, but that all due processes had been followed.
Kganyago would not say what happened but denied that there was any complaint that Miyeni was being racist.
But Miyeni said the reason he had been taken off the slot was because station manager Dennis O'Donnell didn't want him on air.
"None of the reasons given to me make any sense. I believe I was let go because SAfm is run by an apartheid-trained manager who does not understand the new South Africa.
"I guarantee that my show was in no way depicting hate speech. In fact my show showcased black excellence.
"If a show goes funny, you get reported to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa. But there was no complaint this time. He (O'Donnell) did that the last time and he did it again now."
But Kganyago said the dismissal had nothing to do with personalities.
"The station manager was acting on behalf of the SABC and not in his personal capacity. A matter happened on air. He was given time to respond," said Kganyago.
This is not the first time Miyeni has been fired by the SABC. In 2003 he was dis-missed after he allegedly told listeners about the possibility of his contract being terminated.
"I was then told that my contract was not going to be renewed because my utterances regarding its possible termination were against the company's employment regulations."
The Miyeni Show, which was aired in the afternoon, was lauded as one of South Africa's most thought-provoking programmes.
Miyeni will not take any action. "If this country does not see any value in what we were doing on the slot, then what am I to do? If they want to let a manager get away with it, then clearly what I am doing is not necessary," he said.Actor and radio presenter Eric Miyeni has been taken off air.
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