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News - Date: 28 September 2018
Written by: Tracy Ngobeni / Viewed: 5309
One of Limpopo’s most popular radio stations, Phalaphala FM, is embroiled in controversy, with many listeners complaining that the station has been “captured”. It is alleged that presenters who raise topics such as “VBS Mutual” and “King Toni” incur the wrath of their bosses. This is categorically denied by the SABC.
Weekend newspapers as well as dailies reported the past week on the friction between presenters and the station managers. Even the DA released a statement on Tuesday condemning the alleged gagging of radio station staff. “The Democratic Alliance in Limpopo will write to the SABC Board asking for a direct intervention at Phalaphala FM after reports emerged that staff have been barred from speaking about VBS Mutual Bank, Vhavenda King Toni Mphephu Ramabulana and the Vhembe District Municipality,” said the DA’s provincial leader, Jacques Smalle.
The rumours of selective censorship increased when the time slots of popular presenters were changed on short notice. The presenters and producers of the programmes Tshiko, Masofani, Nne na Vhone and Mulakhulu were allegedly moved to other slots following the VBS scandal.
An anonymous source told Limpopo Mirror this week that Phalaphala FM is run by people who are “greedy and hungry for power.” He said that there are employees who receive special treatment and “there are those who are abused for not dancing to the tune of the boss.” The source alleged that many of the staff members are scared and are not comfortable doing their jobs. He also attributed this to the decline the station has experienced in its listenership.
Of the more serious allegations being made, is that a member of senior management benefited from the looting of VBS Mutual Bank. The source reckons this is part of the reason why presenters are being shuffled when they allow listeners to talk about VBS Mutual Bank on live radio. It is also alleged that Khosikulu Toni Mphephu Ramabulana uses his close contact with senior management to influence the program schedule and choice of presenters.
Mrs Neo Momodu, SABC spokesperson reacted late on Wednesday afternoon and said that Phalaphala FM’s management didn’t issue a directive on any matter related to VBS Mutual Bank. “The SABC would like to place on record that at no stage did the Phalaphala station management issue a directive instructing employees not to report on any matter, specifically on matters related to VBS. The station therefore continues to discuss and report on stories related to VBS Mutual Bank underpinned by the SABC’s core editorial values of equality, transparency, editorial independence and nation building,” said Momodu.
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Khosikhulu Toni Mphephu and senior traditional leaders at Phalaphala FM with the station manager, Mr Freddy Sadiki. Photo Supplied.
Tracy Ngobeni is a 20-year-old intern who is doing her final year in journalism at Tshwane University of Technology. She was born and bred in Olifantshoek. She started her journalism career in 2017, after submitting her articles to the Record Noweto Newspaper in Pretoria. Her heart beats for print media because she believes that writing can heal reader's souls.