Johannesburg – Axed Idols judge Gareth Cliff won a mammoth lawsuit against M-Net on Friday, hours before the first auditions for the show were due to start.
The celebrity won his bid to be reinstated as a judge of the popular talent scouting show, Judge Caroline Nicholls ruled in the High Court in Johannesburg.
“This is a contractual dispute. The contractual relationship has to be reinstated to what it was. M-Net will pay costs to Gareth Cliff,” Nicholls told a packed court.
Cliff, dressed smartly in a dark suit, smiled as the ruling, which lasted four minutes, was read out.
Earlier this week, the court heard an urgent court application by him to be reinstated as a judge on the reality singing competition. Cliff was booted from the M-Net show after he commented on KwaZulu-Natal realtor Penny Sparrow’s Facebook post in which she called black people monkeys.
Cliff tweeted: “People really don’t understand free speech at all”, creating consternation on social media and prompting M-Net to sack him, saying it did not want to be associated with a racist.
On Tuesday, however, his lawyer Dali Mpofu argued that his axing was the worst form of racism, while M-Net’s Wim Trengove tried to convince the court that the broadcaster never had a contract with Cliff.
Cliff wanted his job back and R25 million for defamation and breach of contract.
Auditions for Idols 2016 will begin at The Playhouse in Durban on Saturday.
People have reacted with mixed views to the judgment on Twitter:
— It’s Skye bitch (@ShazSkye) January 29, 2016