Criselda Dudumashe denies 'ridiculing' LGBTI community
UPDATE: According to The Citizen, the Higher Education and Training HIV/Aids (HEAIDS) programme confirmed that Criselda had "made comments that were hurtful to the transgender community" and was relieved of her duties as an ambassador".
Criselda Dudumashe (Kananda) has hit back at claims she discriminated and "ridiculed" the LGBTI community with remarks at an AIDS gender-based violence dialogue at the University of Venda in Thohoyandou, Limpopo recently.
The radio personality was criticised on social media for apparently asking men from the audience at the seminar to stand up, before apparently telling people who were unsure about whether to stand up to look between their legs. One Facebook user who claimed to have attended the dialogue said he felt ridiculed by the exercise.
"The culture of not having LGBTI friendly and inclusive policies in the university seem to be an issue off the table. We had to stand there to be ridiculed and told to look in between our legs and were told, 'if you have a penis you are a man even if you are a shemale'. What about those that do not identify as such?' Thalukanyo Victor said on Facebook.
Speaking to TshisaLIVE, Criselda confirmed that she had asked all men in attendance to stand up for gender violence but denied that she had made the apparent offensive remarks.
"It was unfortunate that my character was questioned by such lies. My reputation speaks for itself and anyone who knows me, knows that I will never discriminate against someone because of their sexuality. I asked men to stand up to show their support for fighting gender-based violence but I would never use such language or make such a suggestion," she said.
She claimed that the exercise had been taken out of context and said she never intended to cause offence.
"I would never intentionally offend anyone based on their gender or how they identify. I did not mean to ridicule anyone," she added.
The incident came as Criselda was criticised for remarks she made about former Deputy Higher Education Minister Mduduzi Manana.
Manana admitted to assaulting two women at a Johannesburg bar earlier this month‚ citing “extreme provocation”. He appeared in court last week on two counts of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and was released on R5‚000 bail. He later resigned from his position.
Criselda landed in hot water after she recounted the positive work she had done with Manana, which was seen as defending him. She later deleted the post and wrote a lengthy apology which was also criticised by social media users.
Criselda said that the backlash against her was "the manifestation of the pain South Africans are feeling at the moment".
"I did not feel attacked. I see it as the manifestation of the pain South Africans are feeling at the moment. I was trying to raise the issue that we need to create an environment for repentant abusers to be rehabilitated. I was not as harsh as I should have been," Criselda said.
She also responded to some critics’ suggestions that she be fired from Metro FM because of her comments.
"If I have served my purpose at the station, then I will leave the station. I am an advocate who works hard to create dialogue around important social issues.I will continue to do that whatever the station decides," she said.