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'Kill a biker' row: What readers say...

2014-02-17 15:42

A CALL TO ACTION: Since posting insensitive comments on Facebook, Thegandra Naidoo has been given a leave of absence at Auto Business Review. Image: Janine-Lee Gordon

Wheels24 reported that motoring journalist Thegandra Naidoo was given a leave of absence at Auto Business Review (ABR) for his insensitive comments regarding the death of a biker.

Naidoo, who works for ABR 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!”

His comments have sparked a huge Twitter and Facebook row.

Many readers shared their thoughts via email. The vast majority were (unsurprisingly) hostile and calls for Naidoo to be fired were made.

Alwyn Vorster said: So, it is ok to shoot off your mouth and then quickly cry, 'I'm sorry', after seeing the number of people taking offence. Would he still have apologised if no outcry against his statement was made? Why is he still employed as a motoring journalist? Sooner or later he will do it again.

"Why is he still employed at all?  Get rid of the man."


Henri Zermatten said: "As much as he has apologised he has displayed a mindset that is positively toxic to say the least.  His opinions are his own but as such a person who's views are widely read, such as a journalist, is not fit to occupy such a position.

"I think he should not be allowed to practice journalism in any form whatsoever and reconsider his choice of career as wherever he works as this incident will tarnish them too. I hope the less tolerant bikers don't find him anytime soon because his apologies didn't hold much water with them."

Paula Marnitz said: "I am a middle aged woman and I used to have a bad attitude towards bikers. However when my husband bought a BMW 1150 GS to work on, it dawned on me that not every biker is a thug or gang member. My husband has an MBA and his fellow bikers are all engineers. I felt ashamed of my initial dislike towards bikers.

"Some are idiots but then again, there are loads of idiot car drivers too. We all need to be more open-minded. I have learned a good lesson. Naidoo needs to be fired from journalism, he is a fool."


Grant van Leeve said: "Mr Naidoo needs a smack against his thick head and what a pathetic apology.I travel everyday via motorcycle to work and back and pray that i make it home to my wife and kid. We share the road with road users and most are law-abiding and the same goes with a few bikers as well."

"Rest in peace to the biker that died and my deepest sympathy to his family."

Some readers believed that the animosity towards Naidoo was unwarranted and that we should focus our attention on safer roads:

Jo-Marie Schoeman said: "Thegandra's remark displays the typical intolerant attitude of many (if not most) road users, which I believe is the root cause of our high-road accident rate.

"Let's not single out Thegandra but rather put the shoe on the other foot and each ask ourselves if I haven't had similar thoughts against a taxi driver, pedestrian, runner, cyclist, that blonde woman in her SUV, etc., and then all change our attitudes towards each other.

"The hate campaign that now rages on Facebook is a step in the wrong direction.

Thabiso Khoncha said: “I think the comments were reckless but at the same time I sense some remorse in the apology letter written. It was really uncalled for because it made me as a rider to feel unsafe and uncomfortable! In any case let's ride safe and with patience.”


Some readers took the opportunity to share their experiences with road rage:

Mongezi Biya said: "I was once confronted by a biker on the R24 West but I didn't react to him because I wasn't sure whether I was wrong. The traffic was crawling at about 20km/h and I was on the bridge that goes over the N12 when I decided to change to the right-hand lane.

"That part of the section is downhill and it curves to the right and that's when the biker nearly crashed into me. I don't know how fast he had been travelling or whether I'd neglected to check my mirrors during the change of lanes but from that day I learned to watch out for bikers.

"I'm still amazed though by bikers who don't adjust their speed when traffic is slow. I've seen some zooming past at nearly Crash Test speeds without considering that someone might change lanes and have collide not because the driver wasn't looking at mirror but because the biker was too fast to be noticed and avoided on time."

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