Zodwa Wabantu (Instagram)
The Feather Awards has retracted the 2017 award given to Zodwa Wabantu, in response to her homophobic statements, while the Moja Love channel and the star herself have finally expressed a measure of regret.
In a statement on Thursday, the Feather Awards – which celebrates LGBTQ and allied celebrities – noted, “with great concern, a growing number of public figures making irresponsible statements on various public platforms.”
The organisers went on to announce that, “Zodwa Wabantu is hereby stripped off the award that was conferred to her as an ally who symbolised freedom of expression, and challenged the status quo that often oppresses the marginalised.”
Wabantu was given the Drama Queen of the Year Award at the 9th Feather Awards two years ago and performed at the high profile event.
The Feathers also said it welcomed the SABC’s suspension of radio personality Phat Joe for his homophobic statements against the LGBTQ community.
Joe defended Wabantu on his Radio 2000 morning show on Wednesday and is alleged to have said he was both “disgusted” by being hit on by a man and by “flamboyant” gays. He was also quoted as saying: “I don’t understand why they (gays) can’t accept that it’s difficult for most people to accept their lifestyle.”
The Feathers said these incidents “are a sad reflection of how much work still needs to be done on educating society about understanding diversities and promoting tolerance within the spectrum of human sexuality.”
While Wabantu has been defiant about her comments when contacted by the media, the LGBTQ group Iranti has published a video of the media personality offering an apology.
In the clip, which also features long-time LGBTQ activist Bev Ditistie, Wabantu says: “I would love to say I apologise. I am sorry.” She added that the activists were there to make her “understand and learn… It [her comments] just came out as you saw it but it wasn’t like that. Keep on being yourselves!”
Meanwhile, the Moja Love channel, which broadcast Wabantu’s bigoted comments about gay men on her Zodwa Wabantu: Uncensored reality show, has finally addressed the furore.
In a statement, the channel said that “the views expressed by Zodwa is regrettable and she commits to learning.” The producers said they “accept a measure of responsibility for this oversight and commit to generating edutainment and live reality stories that are based on dignity and respect.”
It added that it was working with Iranti “on remedial actions and to ensure that education around the issue is promoted.” It’s understood that Wabantu may include an apology in an upcoming episode of her show.
The channel, however, did not address calls for it to cancel Wabantu’s series, despite a petition that has now amassed more than 8,300 signatures.