A lesson about racism over breakfast

2012-05-12 15:53

Not much eating happened when DA spokesperson Mmusi Maimane invited two models for breakfast, but it gave the pretty faces of South African racism a chance to face up to their tweets.

Maimane told City Press this week that he was surprised when Jessica Leandra dos Santos and Tshidi Thamana accepted his invitation to reconcile at his Roodepoort home.

After the women’s recent racist tweets caused national outrage, Maimane said he decided to intervene when he got a tweet from someone saying they hoped the women would die and get raped. “It was getting toxic and I felt there had to be some intervention,” he said.

Almost 100 complaints about the tweets have been lodged with the SA Human Rights Commission, but Maimane said he felt the women should talk in person.

It’s been nearly two weeks since Dos Santos used the k-word in a tweet, describing an encounter she’d allegedly had with a black man.

Thamana retorted by saying she wished former youth leader Peter Mokaba’s wish of killing whites had come true.

Maimane and his wife – he only revealed she’s white, but didn’t want her name published – used the breakfast to explain racism to the women.

Maimane explained to Dos Santos exactly how much the k-word hurt him, while his wife asked Thamana if she really wanted all white people dead.

The models apologised to the nation and to each other at a press conference after the breakfast on Wednesday, during which they apparently only pecked at the fruit, yogurt and muesli on offer. The croissants remained untouched.

Maimane said the women had to be made aware of how serious their utterances were.

Questions were asked on social networking site Twitter about how genuine their remorse was, but Maimane said symbolism was important – something former president Nelson Mandela understood well, he added.

Maimane said if it was a mere publicity stunt, the meeting would have happened at a “neutral venue”.

Having a meeting at all had been very risky, things could have turned ugly, he said.

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