‘This legal battle isn’t about whether or not Gareth Cliff is racist’

The radio personality’s case against M-Net is currently being heard in the High Court in Johannesburg.

FILE. Radio personality Gareth Cliff. Picture: Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - Radio personality Gareth Cliff's case against M-Net is currently being heard in the High Court in Johannesburg.

Cliff wants the broadcaster, which he's accused of dismissing him unfairly, to reinstate him as an Idols judge.

M-Net says it was displeased with him weighing in on a racist social media post by Penny Sparrow.

Cliff came under fire when he weighed in on the Sparrow saga after the former estate agent called black beachgoers at Durban's beaches, monkeys.

In a tweet, Cliff wrote that "people don't understand free speech at all".

His lawyer, Dali Mpofu, says this legal battle isn't about whether or not Cliff is racist, but rather about whether his contractual rights were upheld.

Advocate Mpofu says the primary question today is whether or not a contract existed between M-Net and Cliff, signing him up for the 2016 season of Idols.

He's presented the court with a series of email conversations between Cliff and Idols producers, who informed him of plans to include him in the new season of the talent search show.

According to Mpofu, whether the contract was oral or in writing is neither here nor there.

What matters, he says, is that both parties agreed that Cliff would return to the show, making the conversations binding.

While M-Net agrees that it was in talks with Cliff over the new Idols season, it denies that the matter was finalised.


Cliff's legal representatives are demanding his reinstatement, even if only in the interim, to repair the reputational damage his dismissal has caused.

Mpofu says reinstating Cliff will go a long way to fixing the alleged damage M-Net has caused on his reputation.

He has argued that there was a contractual agreement between Cliff and the broadcaster, which was unlawfully cancelled.

According to Mpofu, if this case is allowed to drag on without Cliff being back on the show, it will add to the strain he is already under.

Mpofu says Cliff isn't asking for Idols auditions to be postponed and adds all he wants is to be back on the show as a judge by Friday.