Cell number sparks slurs

Another war of words erupted yesterday after the Afrikaans newspaper, Die Burger, published the cellphone number of ANC Youth League spokesperson Floyd Shivambu on its front page.

Another war of words erupted yesterday after the Afrikaans newspaper, Die Burger, published the cellphone number of ANC Youth League spokesperson Floyd Shivambu on its front page.

It led to Shivambu's cellphone being flooded with racial and insulting SMS messages.

Shivambu says the ANC Youth League is now taking the paper to the Press Ombudsman.

"Very early in the morning I was woken up by a man swearing at me in Afrikaans and I asked 'what have I done?'.

"After that the SMSes started coming in.

"The voicemail messages are even more racist."

Die Burger editor Henry Jeffreys said the debacle was "an honest oversight" on their part.

"We took a decision to publish the full length statement of the ANC Youth League and in the process mistakenly copied Shivambu's cellphone number.

"I have called him and told him that we regret this and we are investigating how it happened.

"There was no intention on our part to publish his number," Jeffreys said.

The Human Rights Commission criticised the political mud-slinging between the ANC, its allies and the DA saying the "tone of the debate" suggests that "both sides have not conducted themselves well".

"The language of the ANC itself needs to be examined. The country does not need this right now," HRC media officer said commission spokesperson Vincent Moaga said.

He said the commission is considering calling all parties involved to a meeting to ask that they tone down the rhetoric that has in the past two days descended to slurs of sexual irresponsibility and promiscuity.

In another development, the ANC rebuked the ANC Youth League for what it termed a "deeply embarrassing" attack on Zille.

Party secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said: "The ANC distances itself from comments by an ANC Youth League spokesperson about DA leader Helen Zille and her provincial cabinet."

He said while the ruling party objected to Zille's remarks on Zuma, it could not tolerate the outburst by the ANCYL.

"But this does not justify the comments by the ANC Youth League," Mantashe said.

"These comments are deeply embarrassing to the ANC, and reflect a marked departure from the ANC's approach to political engagement."

The league had issued a statement saying: "Zille has appointed an all-male cabinet of useless people, majority of whom are her boyfriends and concubines so that she can continue to sleep around with them, yet she claims to have the moral authority to question our president."

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