Ukhozi FM presenter Khathide “Tshatha” Ngobe will remain suspended until the end of March due to a Facebook comment he made on the 10th of January, the SABC announced in a statement.
Ngobe was taken off the airwaves in the second week of January after revealing in a Facebook comment that a Maskandi song ‘Ngafa’ by Shwi Nomtekhala was the most popular song of 2005 but Ukhozi FM’s management of that time decided to choose ‘2 Bob’ by Malaika, fearing that a Maskandi song would not be well-received by listeners.
Although Ngobe tried to clarify that the management’s decision did not amount to corruption as there was still no voting system in 2005, his comment left a number of listeners with distrust for the station, with some threatening to never vote again.
After Ngobe’s comment received widespread attention, the SABC suspended him and launched an investigation. The investigation found him guilty of misconduct and resolved to keep him suspended for two more months.
Below is a full statement from the SABC:
On 10 January 2021 Ukhozi FM’s Khathide “Tshatha” Ngobe took to social media to discuss SABC matters on a public platform without the permission of the organisation. The utterances made by Mr Ngobe, were a transgression, which the organisation viewed in a serious light as they were damaging to the SABC’s reputation, particularly Ukhozi FM.
In his post, Mr Ngobe correctly pointed out that the popular Ukhozi FM campaign Ingoma Ehlukanisa Unyaka he was referring to, did not have a voting element back in 2005. However, Mr Ngobe took an unofficial position to speak on behalf of the organisation, mentioning the names of artists which the organisation respects and considers important stakeholders in the music industry.
Furthermore, his utterances were misconstrued, alleging vote-rigging by station management, despite no public voting in that particular year. In 2009, the station introduced a voting element to the campaign. Since then, auditors have been appointed every year to ensure that all results are fair and transparent, as is the case with all campaigns that involve voting at the SABC on all of its platforms.
Ukhozi FM management has concluded the matter with Khathide Ngobe, and a decision has been taken that Mr Ngobe will remain off-air until the end of March 2021. Mr. Ngobe has also committed to making a public apology on his social media platforms today.
Tshatha issued an apology on Wednesday morning. The apology (loosely translated from Zulu), read, “I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for a comment I made on a Facebook post which listed the songs that have won Ukhozi FM’s New Year’s Eve Song of the year competition in the past. My comment brought the name of the SABC and the radio station Ukhozi FM into disrepute. All communications about the SABC and uKhozi FM should come from the office of the SABC’s spokesperson, not from me as an employee. I apologize unreservedly to the company I work for, the SABC and Ukhozi FM for what I did.”
He also apologized to Malaika, Shwi Nomtekhala and the people he interacted with on Facebook following his comment.
“I learned a lot from this incident and about the dangers of what we post on social media,” he concluded.
When the news of Tshatha’s suspension became public knowledge in January, some Maskandi fans encouraged the station to fire him, blaming him for showing favouritism on his Saturday show Sigiya Ngengoma. However, based on the number of social media comments pleading for him to be forgiven, it is clear that the majority of listeners want him back on the airwaves.
It is not known if Ngobe will return to both the breakfast show and Sigiya Ngengoma on the 1st of April. A lot can happen in two months, especially around this time of the year when the SABC’s radio stations tend to make changes to their lineups. Therefore, there is a risk of Tshatha being demoted upon his return if the station finds a good replacement for him while he is away.
It is not the first time that Tshatha has been suspended over his Facebook comments. In January 2020 he was briefly suspended for responding rudely to listeners who put the blame on him after the station failed to announce 2019’s song of the year due to a court order filed by Owen Ndlovu.
Ngobe’s suspension comes at a time when he is in the prime of his career as a radio presenter. He has been scooping awards left, right and center in the recent past. In March last year he won the Favourite Radio Star and Ultimate Viewers’ Choice awards at DSTV’s Mzansi Viewers’ Choice Awards in Johannesburg. In December he won the Best Radio Presenter (Male) award at the KZN Entertainment Awards in Durban.