Kaya FM fined R5 000 for 'coolie' slur

2013-05-27 13:14

Johannesburg - Kaya FM has been fined R5 000 by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA (BCCSA) for using the word "coolie" in its morning breakfast show.

The commission ruled the use of the word in the radio station's morning show was not derogatory, but offensive to children, it said in a statement on Monday.

The BCCSA ruled that Bob Mabena's and his co-host Kuli Roberts's use of the word did not amount to hate speech because other presenters had disapproved, saving it from such a finding.

However, the use of the word was grossly offensive in terms of the children's clause of the broadcasting code of conduct.

Mabena used the word during a morning breakfast show on 22 February. In the introduction of the show Mabena asked newsreader Mpho Raphata what she was doing. She responded she was "writing something for Kuli", referring to Roberts.

'Complete mockery'

Mabena responded with: "Are you writing for a Kuli?"

The discussion immediately turned to what Roberts had been wearing the previous day and on that day - traditional Indian outfits. The interaction centred around whether it was a sari or a punjabi.

Listener Mondre Bremner lodged a complaint with the BCCSA, arguing such names "were used to describe people of Indian descent, and [a] complete mockery was made of their attire in cultural aspects".

"The word was used as a pun, a form of wordplay, on Kuli, which is the name of the co-host. In the present case, this fact could remove the sting from the word, and also mitigate against a finding that the use of the word amounted to the advocacy of hatred," the commission said.

However, since it was likely that a large number of children comprised the early-morning audience, the code was contravened.

It was likely that a substantial number of children would have heard the presenter use the word "coolie" in regard to his colleague and would not have understood the value of the corrective measures taken, the commission said.

The complaint was upheld and a fine of R5 000 was imposed.


  • Thato Seloane - 2013-05-27 13:28

    Well from today, we using the Richard instead of Dick, not to upset some ppl

      Benjamin Franklin - 2013-05-27 13:38

      okay Richard

  • Steve du Preez - 2013-05-27 13:29

    Oh my pained soul!! HAve we reduced ourselves to nit-picking?? Should I get agrieved everytime someone refers to me as a whitey - in person or in the public space?? Now watch as some agrieved person sues the radiostation for the pain and trauma this caused their child.......

      Mlungisi Botha - 2013-05-28 01:07

      Dunno where you grew up Steve, but every race group in this country has words directed at them that are not just hurtful and derogatory BUT specifically used to get people to feel hurt and demeaned. Don't you know that? It's not just in South Africa, mate, I think if you go anywhere in the world calling people hurtful names you'll land in poo. I think R5000 is peanuts to pay for using that awful word. If you don't understand that then enjoy the rest of your life and hope it ends gracefully.

  • Andrè Keyter Streicher - 2013-05-27 13:36

    I disagree with all of the comments - he said a coolie not kuli ! So let's say he used the k word or even other slang fot that like hout*** would u guys also said all of ur comments, NO there would have been war again ! He was disrespectfull. !

      Richard Stockenström - 2013-05-27 13:55

      The intricacies are lost on this one. Sense of humor failure much?

      Zoheb Hassan - 2013-05-27 14:18

      I agree andre, if the presenter was white and he used the k word even in a pun, this would be a whole different thing now..

  • Paresh Tiloki - 2013-05-27 13:40

    if the word h**k*y is used ! a big stink is created.....but insults can be traded till everyone is blue/black/ yellow in the face ----nothing changes---Grow UP..!

  • Justice Schwart - 2013-05-27 13:44

    You may not use the "C" word, it offends the president.

  • Yandisa Mtanyana - 2013-05-27 13:53

    if you are any other race that the one affected by this try to put yourself in their shoes before you reason negative about this. as presenters they should know their lane and stick to it.

  • Kabelo K-breezy Moshime - 2013-05-27 14:12

    Wow people are sensitive!!!

  • donrico.silva - 2013-05-27 14:28

    Wow...they should come live in our house....the two of would probably be arrested for not being politically correct with each other.!!! come on..we are so over it!!

  • Makhokolotso Mk Nkeane - 2013-05-27 14:36

    U may think this is nothing bt it offends Indians so ppl must refrain 4rm using it. Let's respect each other, I dnt like being called anything than a young black woman, so y call ppl names???? Its not lekker.

      juannepierre - 2013-05-27 15:30

      I agree with you, but I prefer Juanne, as my colour does not define me. Caucasian will pass, white will not... As there is nothing Aryan about me.

      GB Garratt - 2013-05-27 15:51

      No one has the right not to be offended. I am offended that you think otherwise.

  • Paresh Tiloki - 2013-05-27 15:03

    van de walt --come to be Big Daddy -- will give you curried wors ....lekker !

  • Miles Willemse - 2013-05-27 16:34

    The whites used the term with reference to Chinese & Indians ,back breakers unskilled Labour! Which of cause is a derogatory term.

  • Jones Phu-t Lekgoara - 2013-05-27 16:51

    Kuli u needs to change your name coz everytime someone calls you on air khaya fm would be sued.

  • Sithembiso Pa Phewa - 2013-05-27 17:01

    the girls name is kuli so what the fuss people must just go hang them self if they want. this is buullllll ssshhtttt

      Democrazy - 2013-05-27 17:59

      ...Lime leaf!

  • Rob Martin - 2013-05-28 08:34

    Coolie..... Native hired labourer in India/China...refer Oxford Dictionary.

      Klipkop de Groote - 2013-05-28 10:51

      edition printed in 1830. From Google - offensive. An unskilled native laborer in India, China, and some other Asian countries. Also from Google - In Malay, "kuli" is an Asian slave.

  • Pumie Ngobozana - 2013-05-28 09:27

    Isn't Kuli her name short for Nomakula? I don't get this...

  • Lawson Lutchman - 2013-05-28 13:02

    Now imagine the uproar and demand for heads to roll if the black gentleman and cohort was referred to by the "K"word...I'm just saying

  • Nomcebo Dlamini - 2013-05-28 18:53

    they should fine Kuli's parents for naming her Nomakula as well, since the day does'nt go by without her name not being mentioned in the media/social media.

  • Rishaad Ally - 2013-05-29 08:14

    My sentiments exactly lawson. Yes her nick name maybe Kuli but the moment he said "are you writing for a kuli" the derogatory intention was there. If the K word was used online we wont stop hearing about it for the rest of the year.

  • Rishaad Ally - 2013-05-29 08:15

    My apologies, meant on air.

  • Tlhoriso Sepenyane - 2015-03-22 10:43

    this is crazy................we are losing it.....

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