Model Axed from South African FHM After Sparking Outrage with Racist Tweet About ‘Disrespectful Kaffir’
Emma Reynolds, Daily Mail (London), May 4, 2012
A popular model was today axed from the South African edition of lads’ mag FHM after she was accused of making racist comments on Twitter.
The publication confirmed Jessica Leandra Dos Santos, 20, would no longer appear in its photoshoots after she caused outrage by using a taboo term for black people in a tweet.
The attractive model, known as Jessica Leandra, was widely condemned after she yesterday tweeted details of a confrontation with a black man in her local supermarket.
She wrote: ‘Just, well took on an arrogant and disrespectful kaffir [an offensive term for a black person in Afrikaans] inside Spar. Should have punched him, should have.’
The tweet immediately sparked outrage across South Africa, where race relations remain a key issue just 18 years after the end of apartheid.
FHM editor Brendan Cooper today condemned Leandra’s use of the ‘k-word’, which is still considered one of the country’s most racially-charged terms.
He added that she had been stripped with immediate effect of her title as winner of one of the magazine’s model competitions.
In a statement he said: ‘FHM was appalled by Jessica Leandra Dos Santos’ racist tweets and would like to formally announce that she has been stripped of her title as winner of the FHM Modelbook 2011 competition with immediate effect.
‘It’s important to us that it is noted that she in no way represents the magazine; she was merely the winner of an online poll we ran, and that we totally distance ourselves from her blatantly racist comments.
‘We have removed all pictures of her from our website and will have nothing to do with her in future. FHM is a proudly South African magazine and say “No” to racism.’
Leandra’s axing from FHM came months after the aspiring glamour model found stardom as the winner of one of the magazine’s talent-spotting competitions.
She beat a string of would-be models to win the competition last year and has since appeared several times on the pages and website of the magazine alongside other work in advertising campaigns and fashion shoots.
However Leandra’s career today appeared to have crashed and burned after her remarks sparked outrage across South Africa.
The model has deleted her offensive tweet amid the controversy alongside another angry posting in which she wrote: ‘Highlight of my weekend? Almost punching an #Engen petrol assistant. No tolerance for rude African monkeys whatsoever!’
The former cover girl today faced furious attacks on the social networking site, where she was the top trending topic in South Africa.
Thousands of furious members of the public posted comments condemning the model, who also reportedly faces an investigation by South Africa’s Human Rights Council.
Meanwhile one Leandra’s main sponsors also confirmed on Twitter it had stripped her of a contract.
Weightloss firm Quick Trim tweeted: ‘Due to the severity of the remarks by #JessicaLeandra #QuickTrimSA herewith ends our sponsorship to her with immediate effect!’
Leandra today apologised for her outburst and claimed she had posted her tweet only after being sexually harassed.
The model, who describes herself on her website as ‘a woman of clear visions’, admitted her comment had been irresponsible.
She wrote: ‘I tweeted rather irresponsibly about an incident I encountered last night, using a harsh and unkind word about the gentleman who had confronted me with sexual remarks and sounds.
‘Many of you don’t necessarily know the details of the incident, and I also don’t intend on going into them but I do wish you knew where my anger originally boiled from.
‘I strongly believe that no lady should brush off any kind of sexual harassment or arrogance from anyone be it a man or woman of any colour.
‘It is no surprise that my comment has offended many people and for this I am apologetic.
‘There is no excuse to act out loudly over my social networking accounts and I do apologise to those that have taken offence to my language.
‘Whilst most of you would enjoy the opportunity to throw a few vicious words at me, please do understand that I was acting in pure anger and frustration at the time and although we know this is no excuse, it is a lesson learned and again, I am sincerely apologetic.’
The ‘K-word’ remains one of the most explosive and offensive terms in South Africa.
Derived from the Islamic term ‘kafir’, meaning non-believer or liar, it entered common usage as a derogatory term for blacks.
The word was used widely during the apartheid period but is now considered taboo.
The use of racist language has been illegal in South Africa since the country’s new constitution was enacted following the advent of democracy.