Radio Africa Group (RAG) has responded to Shaffie Weru’s demand letter claiming unlawful termination with a counter-suit for Ksh150 million citing lost revenue and reputational damage.
They insist that Shaffie breached his contract by going against the code of conduct and media ethics regulations. He was dismissed on Saturday, March 27 alongside breakfast show co-hosts Neville and DJ Joe Mfalme, against the backdrop of uproar online over comments made by the trio on a news story involving the pushing of a woman off the 12th floor of a building after she turned down the sexual advances of the man she was on a date with.
Shaffie issued an apology for the comments, which were deemed insensitive, and was initially suspended for two weeks before his employment was terminated. East African Breweries Limited (EABL) pulled ads from the show, and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) was among organizations that condemned the trio.
Shaffie noted that he was not given a fair hearing and raised discrepancies involving due process, accusing Radio Africa Group of breaching labour laws. He sought a compensation package of Ksh22 million, including one month’s pay in lieu of notice (Ksh682,500), twelve months’ salary for unlawful termination (Ksh8,190,000) and gratuity of one month salary for each year of service (Ksh12,285,000).
Radio Africa Group in its response noted that Shaffie had undergone training over the course of his 18-year career at the firm including a recent training by the Media Council of Kenya (MCK). The Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) had fined Homeboyz Ksh1 million over the comments and suspended the show for six months.
Radio Africa and its subsidiary Homeboyz Radio 2017 Limited stated their intention to ask the courts for damages of Sh150 million for loss of business and reputational damage of the companies’ 15-year-old and 20-year-old brands.
“His actions were unconscionable and amount to severe gross misconduct. He should have known better having been in the media industry for 18 years and receiving continuous training on media regulators’ programming codes, broadcasting regulations and codes of conduct and ethics. Including a very recent training by the Media Council of Kenya in February 2021 which covered: Ethics and Code of Conduct, Fake news and Fact checking, Interview skills, Conflict Sensitive Journalism, Hate Speech Dilemma in media, On-air presentation skills,” the firm’s lawyers noted in their response to Shaffie.
Anger directed at the trio was centered on allegations of perpetrating misogyny, rape-culture and victim-shaming.
The presenter’s legal team claimed that Homeboyz of using a “social media investigator and jury” in making its decision, highlighting that Shaffie was suspended for two weeks before being terminated later on the same day, Saturday, March 26 without having been given a fair hearing.
At the time of his dismissal, announced on Saturday, March 27, Weru was the Programmes Controller at Homeboyz Radio, and a stand-in host on the Homeboyz Radio morning show The Lift Off.
Over the course of his 18-year stint at Radio Africa, he had been one of its most popular presenters and was seen as a major ratings draw.
His lawyers accused Radio Africa of hatching a ‘crafty scheme’ to avoid paying his terminal benefits.
“In effect, our client was suspended on 26th March 2021 during the day, and terminated on the same day at 11 p.m via a letter dated 27th March 2021.
“Your suspension letter dated 26th March 2021 refers to “inappropriate and insensitive comments” made on 24th March 2021. Our client is still lost and confused as to the exact comments you allude to,” his letter read in part.