City Press to investigate racism claims at paper

City Press editor Ferial Haffajee. (Gallo)

City Press editor Ferial Haffajee. (Gallo)

An internal probe is being conducted into a dispute between City Press editor Ferial Haffajee and several journalists at the newspaper over racism allegations, City Press chief executive Fergus Sampson said on Friday.

"Our process is to get down to the facts and investigate what happened. It is an internal matter and an internal process," he said.

"We are working as fast as possible to get to the bottom of the issue, and we will come to a conclusion shortly. If we think it is warranted to issue a statement [after the probe], then we will do so."

Sampson said he had no comment on the racism claims.

Meanwhile, a group of journalists at City Press said they would lay criminal charges against their editor after they accused her of racism, newspapers reported on Friday.

The Star and the New Age said six journalists decided to lay charges of racism and defamation after a meeting with human resources officials over the matter.

'Cultural superiority'
Haffajee lodged an internal grievance of racism, divisiveness and "cultural superiority" following a staff meeting on Tuesday where the group raised concerns about transformation and alleged discrimination, the Star reported.

One journalist told the New Age that Haffajee asked them to speak their minds at the meeting, saying no one would be targeted.

"But she became offensive when we started raising pressing issues. Emotions ran high. The discussion shifted to the issue of transformation in management."

The journalists also accused the paper of taking a hard line on stories involving President Jacob Zuma, but not towards the Democratic Alliance.

They accused Haffajee of failing to appoint a senior black news editor with political contacts to help tell stories from "a black perspective".

According to the Star, Haffajee hit back at the "racist mauling" of her three news editors.

Accused the journalists of racism
In an email on Wednesday, she accused the journalists of racism, giving them a week to decide whether they still wanted to work for the newspaper.

She dismissed the racism allegations, the Star reported.

"Racism, no matter who practises it is abominable and I will speak out against it."

"I saw real black racism at play and cultural chauvinism that I can't stomach on Tuesday," Haffajee told the Star, saying she refused to be part of a "new oppression". – Sapa

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