Bullard: 'I offer sincere and heartfelt apologies'

Controversial former Sunday Times columnist David Bullard has offered his “sincere and heartfelt apologies” to those who were offended by his now-discontinued satirical Out to Lunch column, saying he is “sorry to have caused so much offence”.

Writing in Friday’s edition of Business Day, Bullard says he became “heady” with the success of the column, which began running just weeks before the 1994 elections.

Last week, Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya axed Bullard after his column, headlined “Uncolonised Africa wouldn’t know what it was missing”, caused an uproar especially among black readers who charged that it presented a racist view of precolonial Africa.

In the piece, Bullard surmised what South Africa might have looked like had colonisation not occurred.

He says he now concedes he “pushed the boundaries too far”.

“For that I offer sincere and heartfelt apologies to those who were offended, including Mondli Makhanya, my friend and former editor, whom I respect enormously.

“Particularly offensive to so many was the suggestion that a family who had lost a child would mourn for a week or so and then have another child.
Despite my claim that this is a fantasy South Africa, I realise that this was an insensitive remark to make and I humbly apologise.

“I betrayed the friendship of so many unseen friends and that is unforgivable. Even for an iconoclastic columnist,” said Bullard.

Investigation

Meanwhile, the South African Human Rights Commission is conducting an internal investigation into an incorrect media statement that said it would not pursue a complaint of racism against Bullard.

“The official position of the commission has never been that we are not taking up the matter,” said CEO Tseliso Thipanyane.

On Wednesday, spokesperson Vincent Moaga had said that the matter would not be taken further because the Sunday Times had apologised for the column.

“He made a mistake,” said Thipanyane. “That is under investigation.”

Thipanyane said he only became aware of complaints that the column was racist on Wednesday. One complaint was received from writer Victor Dlamini, and he understood that there could be another two complaints.

“If we feel there is a case to answer we might decide to take the matter to the Equality Court, or to have a hearing,” he said.

In its apology, the newspaper said: “The Sunday Times subscribes to non-racialism and is committed to building a South Africa based on the values enshrined in the Constitution. We will not be a platform for views which undermine the values of our publication ... We apologise to readers who were offended by the column.”—Sapa

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