South African DJ fired for making incendiary remarks about Caster Semenya

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A Kaya FM DJ, Majota Khambule, nicknamed Phat Joe has been suspended following complaints from listeners regarding his comments about revelations that South Africa’s World Champion Athletic Runner, Caster Semenya (18) was inter-sex. Listeners complained that the DJ’s comments were “harsh”. He allegedly invited listeners to express their views on the Semenya issue on Friday morning, 11 September 2009, after an Australian newspaper claimed the results of a gender test on the teenage athlete show she had “no womb and no ovaries, and had internal testes”.

During his show, Phat Joe allegedly said the following:

 “Does this mean that at this point she has never had a period? To some extent, she should have known that something is not 100 percent right, she was still waiting for her period perhaps?”

 “Did she cheat when she left those women (behind) in Germany? Why is it possible that she could not have known that she is not 100 percent female?

Some of the callers were offended by the remarks. One male caller allegedly asked him to be sensitive about the issue, telling him, he had three times referred to Semenya as having testicles instead of internal testes, as it had been reported. But Phat Joe shot back: “What is the difference between testes and testicles? Let’s say she has testes, what does that mean to you? Does it mean she is a man or a woman? She is either a natural phenomenon, or something is wrong and something should be fixed”.

Meanwhile on 15 September 2009, Kaya FM confirmed that Phat Joe’s suspension was due to the Semenya issue. The station said that while it would continue to entertain and inform, it would not do so at the expense of any individual, and that they will do an internal investigation regarding the DJ’s comments. “They (listeners) said they thought it was a bit harsh,” said station General Manager Greg Maloka. Phat Joe was not reached for comment.

Caster Semenya (born January 7, 1991) is a middle-distance runner from South Africa. After Semenya vastly improved her running times in the 800 and 1,500 meter races at the African Junior Championships in July, 2009, the International Association of Athletics Federations requested she undergo gender verification testing to prove she is a woman. Semenya’s coach, Michael Seme earlier on told the U.K.’s Daily Mail: “We understand that people will ask questions because she looks like a man. It’s a natural reaction and it’s only human to be curious.” But maintained that she has “nothing to hide.” On 8 September 2009, Caster appeared on the cover of “You Magazine” under the headline “Look at me Now,” after having undergone a complete makeover.

MISA-South Africa condemned the DJ’s ignorance and called for his dismissal. “Kaya FM should fire him. He needs to understand that being behind the mic is powerful and should be used effectively to entertain, educate and inform it’s listener’s. Not to add to the existing ignorance regarding sex, sexuality and gender,” stressed MISA-South Africa.

Source: Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)

PRETORIA, September 17, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)

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