The South African Press Association carries this update on the story. This comes after Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters called for her to be suspended.

As the racism row rages on at the City Press newsroom, the captain of the ship has gone on leave, The Sunday Independent reported.

“Your flintstone editor is out on leave. This will enable you to douse the fires I started,” the paper quoted Ferial Haffajee as saying.

In a letter written to her staff, she apologised while looking to the future.

“For where the flames licked painfully, I apologise, but do feel that we are about to embark on a journey toward far greater clarity of what we are and what we believe in.”

The apology followed a fall out between Haffajee and her staff. It was reported on Friday that a group of journalists at the publication would lay criminal charges against Haffajee after they accused her of racism.

The journalists also accused the paper of taking a hard line on stories involving President Jacob Zuma, but not towards the Democratic Alliance.

They accused Haffajee of failing to appoint a senior black news editor with political contacts to help tell stories from “a black perspective”.

Haffajee hit back at the “racist mauling” of her three news editors. In an e-mail on Wednesday, she accused the journalists of racism, giving them a week to decide whether they still wanted to work for the newspaper.

She tweeted the fall out.

In her letter, she said she trusted the paper would emerge stronger and assured staff there was nothing unusual about the fall out as it was happening everywhere.

“I hope we can get through it quickly so we can focus on our clear and binding common factor — good and even great journalism.”

An internal probe to investigate what happened had been launched.