HuffPost SA Editor-in-Chief Verashni Pillay Resigns


Tonight, 22 April 2017, Huffington Post South Africa’s Editor-in-Chief, Verashni Pillay, resigned, according to News24.

This comes after a statement by the Press Ombud, who condemned the editorial actions of Pillay in her acceptance and defence of an article that called to remove the white male franchise. Pillay has been the subject of much scrutiny since defending the piece and it later being revealed that the article was submitted by an individual who meant to entrap the site.

While the Post attempted to draw attention away from their own failings by demonising Marius Roodt, the author of the trap-piece, this was evidently not enough. Roodt resigned from his employment because his actions, and now Pillay has done the same.

The Post was ordered to apologise for its publishing of the piece by the ombud, Johan Retief. He argued that the piece incited hate speech and breached the Press Code. He further argued that Pillay’s pulling of the piece was not due to any editorial sensibility, but because they had found out that they had been trapped by an imposter. All blame for the publishing of the piece rested on the editorial team and the editor.

It was made obvious that Pillay was supportive of the article’s ideas when in her defence of the article she stated that the content was “pretty standard for feminist theory”.

Retief wrote:

“The blog was discriminatory and denigratory to white males, and impaired the dignity of some men in this group. By publishing, she also impaired the dignity of some white men, a breach of Section 3.3 of the code which cautions the media to ‘exercise care and consideration in matters involving dignity and reputation…”

It is worrying that dignity and reputation apparently have to be protected, but it is clear that Pillay violated the Press Code and may have violated the Huffington Post‘s own editorial guidelines.

The piece was also condemned by Retief for further damaging the media’s reputation, by allowing an entrapment article to be published.

What is not clear is if Pillay’s resignation was pressured or purely voluntary. The same remains unclear as to Roodt’s resignation.

Editorial control of the site will be reassigned to Ferial Haffajee and Pieter du Toit until a new editor is appointed.