Gareth Cliff lets "bygones be bygones"

January 30, 2016, 9:28pm

By Genevieve Quintal, The Juice on Business Day Live
Photo: Sunday Times

Reinstated Idols judge Gareth Cliff does not hold a grudge against M-Net and has asked that "bygones be bygones".

"There are great people, much greater than me, who suffered for our right to free expression, people like Nelson Mandela who’ve said let bygones be bygones," he told reporters at CliffCentral headquarters in Johannesburg on Saturday.

"So who am I, just a little ant in this picture, to say anything different and especially to hold a grudge. So I say, let bygones be bygones."

Cliff said the show, Idols, had to go on.

"That’s very, very important and my only wish is that all of us in South Africa, me included, have learnt something from this episode."

He said, as a country, South Africa needed to find a way to "make lemonade out of these bitter lemons".

January had been a difficult month, marred by racial tensions.

Cliff said if his court application and the work done by his legal team contributed just a little bit to ensuring that this month ended in a better place, then it was worth it.

On Friday, the High Court in Johannesburg ordered that Cliff be reinstated as a judge on Idols. Judge Caroline Nicholls ordered M-Net to pay his legal fees.

Cliff was axed for making a comment about free speech in reaction to a racist tweet by KwaZulu-Natal estate agent Penny Sparrow. Cliff lodged an urgent application in the court. He wanted his job back and R25m for defamation and breach of contract. 

M-Net has said it respected the court’s decision, but still believed it did the right thing by taking Cliff off the show.

Cliff, on Saturday, said he was worried that M-Net was still insisting that it did nothing wrong. "I hope they find it in their hearts to admit their mistakes, like I admitted mine."

On his fellow Idols judges -Somizi Mhlongo, Randall Abrahams and Unathi Msengana -Cliff said he was looking forward to working with them again as they were like family.

He did not foresee there being any awkwardness when he returned to the judging panel.