Motoring journalist Thegandra Naidoo has been given a leave of absence at Auto Business Review for his insensitive comments regarding the death of a biker. His comments? "I cannot wait for my day to come when I will open my door and a motorcyclist will fly off his bike and, hopefully, break his neck."
Journo slammed in 'kill a biker' row
Wheels24 reported that the driver who allegedly shot and killed a motorcyclist in an apparent road rage incident in Johannesburg on February 14 2014 will appear in the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court.
The driver and 39-year-old father of two, biker Douglas Pearce, were allegedly involved in a confrontation while travelling on Malibongwe Drive, Johannesburg. Lieutenant-Colonel Katlego Mogale said the two pulled off the road and continued the argument, during which the driver was injured and the biker killed. Firearms recovered from both men were sent for ballistics testing.
Mogale reported that the driver would be charged with murder in court on February 17 2014.
'BREAK HIS NECK!'
While many road users might feel strongly about the incident, it’s important to mindful of what is being said on social networks, especially if you’re a journalist. At no point should you advocate the death of fellow road users, as one journalist has on Facebook and Twitter.
Motoring journalist Thegandra Naidoo has come under severe fire for his remarks on the incident, particularly from his peers.
Naidoo, who works for Automotive Business Review and a web-based radio programme called BizRadio, posted on Facebook: “I don’t blame the guy that shot the motorcyclist. They are obnoxious and arrogant. I cannot wait for my day to come when I will open my door and a motorcyclist will fly off his bike and hopefully break his neck!”
Naidoo’s comments incensed the Jozi Rides blogger: “Now Thegandra, firstly you have to be a bit thick in the head to make generalizations such as that. Secondly, you are wishing for motorcyclists to break their necks, yet you are a motoring journalist? Wow.
"I would have expected comments like yours to arise on the internet from some 155kg troll who lives in his moms basement and stuffs down Doritos all day long. But these comments have come from someone who is a ‘motoring journalist’? I am shocked, and I am not the only one as can be seen on various social networks such as Ignition TV’s Facebook page."
"We could get really nasty here but listen up. You can apologize to the family of the deceased and retract your small-minded comments, or you can carry on living your pathetic hate-filled life. I think I am safe in saying you have deeply offended the biking community, and that is one community I would not want to offend."
Naidoo posted a letter of apology on February 16 2014. Here is an excerpt from his letter, also published on Jozi Rides:
In light of my insensitive comments made about bikers, I wish to apologise to all motorcycle owners in South Africa. My comments were unwarranted and I did not consider that a large number of people commute on motorcycles and motorists, too, pose a threat to their livelihood on a daily basis.
I understand that all bikers are infuriated at my Facebook post. Rightfully so, they have every reason to do so. While we cannot change what has been done, I publicly apologise to everyone that I have offended.
I am hoping we can resolve this matter amicably and bring the matter to closure. I also do sympathise with the family who lost their loved one in the shooting along Malibongwe Drive. May his soul rest in peace.”
Fellow journalists were not convinced of the sincerity of Naidoo's apology.
F1 expert and former 5fm radio presenter, Sasha Martinengo, said: "Your pathetic apology is a sign of your spineless conviction of anything.. Come on my show....?"
UPDATE: The above followed strong condemnation on the original statement. (To clarify, these remarks below were made before the apology was published.)
Mark Smyth, a journalist at Business Day, said: “This is an absolutely disgusting comment. I hope I never come across Thegandra Naidoo again."
Gearheads SA editor Mark Holdsworth said: “Wow. That's truly despicable! Such a shame he has a platform for these toxic points of view.”
Motoring photographer and South African Guild of Motoring guild member, Waldo van der Waal, said:: Ashamed to be a part of the same guild as him. Or should i say 'was'? Either he goes or I go."
Since his comments, Naidoo has been given a leave of absence at ABR:
Graham Erasmus, Publisher at Automotive Business Review, said: “It was with deep shock and regret that I discovered that one of our editors, Thegandra Naidoo, had made intemperate comments on his Facebook page.
Whilst these comments were made after office hours and by Naidoo in his personal capacity, and apparently in the heat of the moment, I simply cannot condone such behaviour and Naidoo has been placed on leave of absence, with immediate notice.
I shall be conducting a full investigation into this incident, and hope to come to a decision about Naidoo’s future participation in ABR within a couple of days. I wish to make this decision in the cold light of day, rather than from my current emotional perspective, because I myself have a daughter and son-in-law who are bikers. “
The SA Guild of Motoring Journalists posted the following on Facebook:
“The South African Guild of Motoring Journalists (SAGMJ) wishes to clarify its position on road safety following comments made by a member of the organisation, Mr Thegandra Naidoo, on social media on 14 February 2014. The comments – that have since gone viral across various platforms – were made in Mr Naidoo’s personal capacity and are not in concurrence with the values of the SAGMJ. “
“We would like to assure the motorcycling community that we are in the process of taking the appropriate disciplinary actions, as prescribed by our constitution, to address the matter.”
WHEELS24 READERS RESPOND
"It was really uncalled for", "Why is he still employed as a motoring journalist?", "He needs a smack against his thick head,' Wheels24 readers to motoring journalist Thegandra Naidoo's insensitive comments regarding the death of a biker.
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