Radio and television icon Unathi Nkayi is demanding a whopping R1.6-million from Kaya FM for unfair dismissal and loss of income after she lost lucrative endorsements as a result of the station ‘s unlawful termination of her contract.
Nkayi’s demands are contained in the suit she filed at the Johannesburg High Court last week.
In the papers, which we have seen, Nkayi said that she signed a contract with the station on February 11 2020 to be its presenter.
She said the agreement, which commenced on March 1 2020, and was expected to run until February 28 2023, was unlawfully repudiated by the station after her verbal altercation with fellow presenter Sizwe Dhlomo.
The contract included among others, presenting the Monday to Thursday 12pm-3pm show and “providing Sui generis – [sic] content daily, making 12 public appearances (taking the form of marketing and branding opportunities) on behalf of the defendant at no additional fee for the duration of the agreement.
She also had to collect and produce all audio content and complete entries for the station’s radio awards, and “take responsibility” for all website content and interactions on social media during the course of the show.
Nkayi said, for her contribution, the station was expected to pay her R60 0000 per month from March 1 2020 to June 30 2020.
She said the agreement stipulated that the contract would be terminated if she committed any single material or persistent breach of its provisions.
This includes deliberately neglecting the discharge of her duties under the agreement.
“If she contravenes the regulations repeatedly or in a material manner that jeopardises the station, alienates listeners and/or advertisers, and if she was guilty of any other conduct that would justify summary cancellation at common law,” read the papers.
Nkayi said the station increased her monthly fee to R81 250 after increasing her weekly shifts from April 1 2021 to air the midday show, which was followed by a show presented by Sizwe Dhlomo, from Monday to Friday.
On October 18 2021, she said, she was involved in a verbal altercation with Dhlomo, after reacting negatively to her complaint that he had arrived late for his show, thus preventing her from concluding her shift.
Nkayi said she was humiliated and felt insulted by Dhlomo’s response to her complaint.
Accordingly, she said, on October 19 2021, she filed a complaint to the station’s head of human resources department against Dhlomo.
“The defendant investigated the plaintiff’s complaint and, on 21 October 2021, dismissed it.
In dismissing the plaintiff’s complaint, the defendant requested the plaintiff to tender a written apology to Dhlomo within five days of the date of the letter.”
She said despite complying with the station’s request, the station accused her of failing to do so and indicated its intention to terminate her contract.
She said at the station’s invitation, she made detailed submissions as to why the agreement should not be cancelled.
“On 17 November 2021, the defendant repudiated the agreement by unlawfully purporting to terminate it.
“The defendant’s purported termination of the agreement was unlawful because the defendant failed to give the plaintiff the opportunity to rectify the alleged breach as required by the agreement,” read the papers.
Nkayi said she did not commit any single material or persistent breach of the provisions of the agreement and did not deliberately neglect the discharge of her duties under the agreement.
Also, she said, she did not contravene “the regulations” repeatedly or in a material manner that jeopardised Kaya FM, alienated listeners and advertisers.
She added that she was also not guilty of any other conduct that would justify summary cancellation at common law.
“As a result of the defendant’s unlawful repudiation of the agreement, the plaintiff suffered contractual damages in an amount of R1 300 000.00,” read the papers.
Nkayi said fashion magazine GQ and KFC, which had offered to pay her R30 000 and R70 000, respectively for services relating to her public persona severed ties with her.
After he dismissal, she said, the station did not pay her salary for 16 months.
“The total sum which the defendant failed to pay over the 16-month period was R1 300 000.00 [R81 250.00 multiplied by 16]. Despite demand, the defendant has failed to pay to the plaintiff the sum of R1 300 000.00. The defendant is ordered to pay to the plaintiff the sum of R1 300 000.00,” read the papers.
Nkayi also said the station published defamatory statement on its website, saying that she has been “pink slipped”.
The statement, among others, said there was a breakdown in trust between them and her version of events in the matter and had “unfortunately been found wanting”.
She demands that the station removes the statement from the website and pay her a total of R100 000.
She is also demanding R200 000 for impairment of dignity after the station stated in its termination letter written on November 17 2021 that, acting with pre-meditation, she fabricated a complaint about Dhlomo, which she knew to be a lie, to prejudice his contract with it.
It also stated that her conduct “was a well-thought out plan”, maliciously made a complaint about Dhlomo, connivingly sought to coax other employees to concur with her alleged misrepresentation, lied about her version of events, professed to champion causes against abuse but was abusive towards Dhlomo by falsely accusing him.
The station also said she played the victim and was prepared to use falsehoods and subterfuge to perpetrate a false narrative against Dhlomo and victimise him.