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A landmark decision is in the offing as Parliament announced at midnight a proposal to pass a Bill to ban the use of the colloquial Afrikaans word “piel”.

This comes after a pie-making company, King Pie, caused uproar on Twitter when it unveiled its hashtag #ThePieIsKing. Meant to be read as “The Pie is King”, the sans-serif font used on Twitter confused South African readers who mistook it as “The Piels King”.

This led to several women’s rights groups demonstrating through the streets of South Africa’s major cities declaring that revering or worshipping the phallus and related symbols undermine the progress women have made in recent years. One of the groups even forced a Hindu guru in Durban to cover the lingam, believed to be a phallic symbol tied to the deity Shiva.

Head of communications for King Pie, Margaret van der Merwe, said the company did not know such a mistake would lead to a national fiasco.

“At the time, my team thought we struck upon a good idea. We did not take into account that Twitter’s font would cause such confusion. I mean, why would we say that a man’s tollie is king? We are lovers of pie.”

Tatum Jarman, a sociology professor at the Thomson Institute of Technology and Science (TITS), is against banning words as it means South Africans would lose its hard-fought freedom of expression.

“By chipping away at our freedoms, we not only lose our heritage but our humanity too. Soon, I will not be able to call my husband a breast milk-guzzling guttersnipe out of fear that he would sue me.”

Van der Merwe apologised to the nation for robbing its people of a word that is very much part of its heritage and culture.

“We deeply regret the decision we had made and the repercussions thereafter. To make it up to the people, we have declared 1 September ‘National Pie Day’ and South Africans will be eligible for a free pie on the day from any of Judy’s Pies outlets throughout the country.”

She added that customers would need to show official South African identification before claiming their free pie. This means foreign nationals are exempt from claiming pies.

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