Verashni Pillay column ‘did not amount to hate-speech’, panel

In April this year, Verashni Pillay resigned after the the damning findings by the Press Ombudsman but now an Appeal Panel has set her free.

Ex-Huffington Post SA editor Verashni Pillay has won an appeal she lodged earlier this year with the Appeal Panel of the Press Council of South Africa.

The Appeal Panel set aside the April ruling that the piece was hate-speech.

Press Ombudsman Johan Retief found Pillay guilty of the opinion piece.

It was published on the Huffington Post website on 13 April 2017 under the title ‘Could it be time to deny white men the franchise?’.

Written by a prankster calling himself ‘Shelley Garland’, the column argued that white people are so powerful and the only way the oppressed can gain equality is through refusing white men the rights to vote.

It was published under Pillay’s watch as Huffington Post editor and she resigned when it caused a public outcry afterwards. It was removed from the newspaper’s website and management apologised for it, sending the matter to the Press Ombudsman.

The Appeals Panel said Retief’s April ruling was “huge a jump” in classifying the column as hate speech.

“It could well be that the piece irritated or annoyed some people; but to classify it as hate speech would be too huge a jump,” the panel’s Judge Bernard Ngoepe said on Tuesday.

(edited by MLM)

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