03/10/2017 15:38 SAST | Updated 03/10/2017 16:05 SAST

Cosatu Apologises For Racial Insults Hurled At City of Johannesburg's Michael Sun

The trade union says it doesn't condone racism or racial discrimination.

Rogan Ward / Reuters
Cosatu and SACP members marching against state capture and corruption shouted racist abuse at elected official Michael Sun, who had come to receive their memorandum.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has apologised unreservedly for the barrage of insults hurled at City of Johannesburg Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Public Safety Michael Sun, saying it doesn't condone racism or racial discrimination.

At the Cosatu protest against state capture and corruption on Wednesday, September 27, marchers stopped outside the Johannesburg City Council to hand over a memorandum to Mayor Herman Mashaba. The mayor was not available to come and sign the memorandum and sent Sun to stand in for him.

News24 heard marchers call Sun a "fong kong" and tell him to go back to China. Sun is a South African-born citizen of Chinese descent.

The crowd, as well as an official who accepted the memorandum, did not give Sun a chance to speak.

Sun stood in silence as more offensive slurs were thrown his way, while South African Communist Party (SACP) secretary general Blade Nzimande looked on, along with other leaders.

The crowd also mimicked sounds made in Kung Fu movies during fights.

'Cosatu will never condone any form of racism'

When Sun was signing the memorandum, some in the crowd shouted that he should not sign in Chinese. They said Mashaba had sent Sun -- to whom a Cosatu official referred to as "Mr Lee" -- because he was scared of workers and had therefore sent someone who knew karate.

They called Mashaba a sellout.

Mashaba threatened to take the organisations to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) if they did not apologise by Sunday.

Cosatu apologised on Tuesday morning for any embarrassment and hurt caused by the derogatory statements.

"Cosatu will never condone any form of racism or racial discrimination. We have concluded that the statements made against Michael Sun were intolerant, patronising and hurtful and could be easily interpreted as bigoted. That is not what our organisation stands for," said the statement.

Cosatu's Sizwe Pamla was not available for comment.

The SACP has not yet issued an apology.