South African radio presenter Gareth Cliff has been suspended for two days by national music station 5fm as a result of an “interview” he conducted with “Jesus” on his show on Tuesday afternoon, which elicited numerous complaints from listeners.
The radio station said in a statement on Wednesday that Cliff apologised to his listeners for any offence he may have caused.
Cliff stated he had not intentionally aimed to disparage any religion, but rather to parody the Mel Gibson’s controversial motion picture The Passion of the Christ, which has been greeted with vigorous debate internationally.
The film opens in South Africa this month.
The “interview” was pre-recorded with Cliff interviewing himself playing “Jesus”, the 5fm statement said.
Nick Grubb, 5fm programme manager, said: “We believe that the segment was inflammatory, and could have been interpreted negatively by a large portion of our listeners. Whilst Gareth is often irreverent and controversial, he merely overstepped the mark this time.”
Station manager John Langford added: “As a responsible broadcaster we simply cannot endorse any content that unnecessarily undermines the religious beliefs of our listeners.”
Cliff will return on Monday March 15 for his afternoon drivetime show on the station.