POLITICS

City of Tshwane Director Embroiled In Racism Storm

The acting director of energy and electricity in the City of Tshwane is accused of calling black people baboons and refusing to allow them to speak their mother tongue.

19/01/2017 10:40 SAST | Updated 19/01/2017 15:18 SAST
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A City of Tshwane director has been embroiled in a racism row after he allegedly called black workers baboons and barred them from speaking in their native languages.

The African National Congress (ANC) caucus in the City of Tshwane has accused the acting director of energy and electricity Frans du Toit of insulting workers at the Centurion office.

"These racially painful and disrespectful comments by Mr. Frans du Toit directed to his fellow black colleagues have gone to the extent of calling black people of this city and indigenous people of this country as 'baboons and as kaffirs'. Such remarks are reminiscent of the apartheid and National Party attitude towards the indigenous people of this country," spokesperson Lesego Makhubela said.

He said Du Toit also degraded black people, saying were not deserving of the jobs they were in, and were inadequate and unequal to the task.

The country has in recent months seen sporadic racism incidents where white people have called blacks baboons. The trend was heavily highlighted in the media since 2016 with the likes of Penny Sparrow taking to the forefront. She called black beachgoers monkeys with no education.

A Sodwana Bay guesthouse owner, Andre Slade, allegedly turned away black people from his establishment. He said blacks were made to be servants and that he was their king and should be referred to as Inkosi.

The education sector was not spared from the trend. Pretoria Girls High School was accused of calling black pupils monkeys and forcing them to straighten their natural hair. The learners claimed that they were not allowed to speak their home languages at school.

"These racially painful and disrespectful comments by Mr. Frans du Toit directed to his fellow black colleagues have gone to the extent of calling black people of this city and indigenous people of this country as 'baboons and as kaffirs'. Such remarks are reminiscent of the apartheid and national party attitude towards the indigenous people of this country"

Two Mpumalanga men also found themselves on the wrong side of the racial divide when they assaulted a man and put him in a coffin. Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Martins Jackson were arrested following the incident.

Sandton man Ben Sasonof recently found himself at the centre of a racism storm when he said a Durban beach packed with black people must have smelt like the inside of President Jacob Zuma's butt.

With that in mind, Makhubela said since the Democratic Alliance took over in the city, there has been a mindset of thinking that black people must return to work as messengers, gardener's, security guards and receptionist.

"[Du Toit] vowed to ensure that it happens. We would like to place it on record that Mr. Frans du Toit went to get Human Resources to terminate the employment of those workers who challenged him on his racial slurs and they have been served with termination letters by the city," he said.

Supplied
A copy of the termination letters

Mayoral spokesperson Samkelo Mgobozi said they were aware of the allegations and they had taken the matter up with those involved. Mgobozi said the Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) brought the matter to their attention but there was a stalemate between the two parties.

"At the surfacing of the allegations, the regional office swiftly met with the official and the union to deal decisively with the subject matter. Following submissions from both parties, the case remains a stalemate as the union could not advance evidence to support the allegations," he said.

Mgobozi said Du Toit told them that the allegations against him were as a result of the introduction of new management systems to deal with excessive overtime claims and other procedural practices.

The matter has now been referred to the Corporate and Shared Services for further investigations and corrective measures.

"[Du Toit] vowed that he is going to ensure that it happens. We would like to place it on record that Mr. Frans du Toit went to get Human Resources to terminate the employment of those workers who challenged him on his racial slurs and they have been served with termination letters by the city"

While the cloud still hangs in the air, the workers have been accused of embarking on an unprotected strike and intimidating other employees over the issue. Mgobozi said the city has now obtained a court order against them.

Makhubela, however, saw the move as a way of protecting Du Toit. He has called on the city to rescind all the letters of termination.

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