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'Kill a biker' row: Journo out in the cold

2014-02-18 10:34

MOTORING JOURNO UNDER FIRE: Thegandra Naidoo has been asked to leave the employ of ABR with immediate effect. Image: Facebook, Janine-Lee Gordon

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Motoring journalist Thegandra Naidoo has been "asked to leave the employ" of ABR Magazine with immediate effect, after making insensitive comments on social media following a biker’s death in a road rage incident.

ABR Magazine announced on Tuesday (Feb 18) that Naidoo has been asked to leave the employ of the company with immediate effect.

The announcement came after the biking community and the general public expressed their outrage on social media due to Naidoo’s insensitive comments on Facebook on February 14. Naidoo's comments were in regard to a biker who was shot and killed in Johannesburg during a road rage incident with a driver.

Naidoo 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!”


ABR publisher Graham Erasmus said in a statement posted on Facebook:  “After a day of reflection and consultation, and further investigation into the events around a most unfortunate and acrimonious exchange of views on the social media, a decision has been taken.

“Mr Naidoo has today, with immediate effect, left the employ of aBr. The decision was taken in the cold light of day, and many factors had to be considered in taking this decision, not least of which were the many death threats received, but of course the key determination was based on the unacceptable nature of the comments made, irrespective of the circumstances, of which I shall expand on in an editorial to be published in the next issue of aBr.”

“I wish to once again apologise unreservedly to the family of Mr Pearce; the entire biking community of South Africa; the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists; our valued clients and customers and members of the public.

"I also wish to reiterate that aBr and its staff distance ourselves entirely and without reserve from the comments made by Mr Naidoo, and that we, notwithstanding that Mr Naidoo has now left our employ, are investigating opportunities to make something good out of a terrible set of circumstances, and to show our goodwill towards all motorists.”

Wheels24 readers shared their comments:

Ernie van Biljon said: “A person in his position cannot afford to revert to puerile comments about other people's perceived status in life, least of all to wish them harm because he does not agree with his perception of their lifestyle and morals!

“I hope he doesn't have a family that will be affected by his sick comments, because I cannot see him remaining in his current or related positions in the near future. Better people than him, eg. Darren Scott, had to bite the bullet for a moment of indiscretion and so should he.”

K Simonis said: “Firstly, it was disgusting that someone in no matter what profession can put that sort of karma on any driver, especially related to an incident of someone losing their life to someone’s idiotic anger issues. That’s hatred and will fall on that person for the rest of their lives with or without their apology. Media sites such as facebook are personal but it can be seen ny anyone and everyone.  Some thoughts are best left to yourself in your hateful mind!”

“This is coming from a motorcycle rider. My whole family drives motorcycles. Being a female motorcycle rider, I know what it’s like for us at times. People paint us all with the same brush that we’re ‘arrogant’. How many people actually give a motorcycle driver the time of day?

“It’s dangerous on the roads for everyone these days but even more so for someone on two wheels with all these drivers speeding, pushing in, not using indicators, racing, hooting because they have no patience.”

Gert Botha said: “This journo cannot be allowed another chance on these platforms as he should have known who he represents. He actually placed a death wish on all he represents, and quite frankly, he only posted an apology to save his career – well, that would be over in any case as he would never be taken in the same light as the other journalists.

"These are the facts:

1. Since the e-toll came about, and with the new hikes in petrol prices, I noticed a tremendous increase in road users reverting to two-wheel transport
2. As a fellow biker, working in the corporate world, I have learned not to judge, because the spectrum of bikers, have now spanned even further, from the old “bad” bikers, to Dr’s, Advocates, Bankers, IT developers etc, using bikes to families who started to use this as their only means of transport due to financial constraints
3. Our challenge now is going to be on how to educate these “new bikers” on how to travel safely in peak traffic, and surely we do not need “hate speech” comments from the non-biking community, feuding further antagonism
4. I have been on both the receiving end of a biker driving into my vehicle due to another vehicle opening up their doors at the wrong place, and being bumped by motor vehicles whilst on my motorcycle
5. Journalists have to understand that the apparent once-off incidents mostly happens due to the fact that a few events took place before that, and that a biker is so much more exposed. He is taking a risk, motorists should not add to that risk, if they do not have the guts to ride bikes themselves, they should not attempt to intervene in a bikers route on the road, as the bikers just want to get past an carry on. They have no intention in having a wrestling match with a heavier vehicle.

You should make this an example to other like-minded viewers of bikers as this can become a nasty trend.”

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