New toilet racism claim to be investigated

2014-11-12 08:32

The South African Human Rights Commission said it was not aware of another toilet segregation allegation at an animal clinic in Louis Trichardt, Limpopo, but would look into it.

The Sowetan newspaper today reported that the Blouberg Animal Clinic had separate toilets for whites and blacks.

The clinic is located in the same area as the Vleissentraal office block, which came under fire last week after reported claims of toilet racism emerged.

“We are not aware of this allegation, but we will look into it,” commission spokesperson Isaac Mangena told Sapa.

“We will visit and see. Yes we will send investigators to that place.”

Three sources at the animal clinic told the newspaper it had four toilets – one for black staffers and black customers, and three for white staff and white customers.

A Sowetan journalist used the toilet reserved for black people and found it was located outside and behind the main building, while the toilets for whites were inside the building.

Veterinarian Freddie Harris, who co-owns the clinic, declined a request from the newspaper to comment.

Last week, the same newspaper reported that the Vleissentraal office block in Louis Trichardt allocated toilets according to race groups.

The human rights commission subsequently said that it had sent investigators to the building and found that the allegations were true.

It launched an investigation, and warned that it would resort to approaching the Equality Court if it did not get cooperation from the building’s owner Bennie van der Merwe.

Last Wednesday, Van der Merwe opened a case of defamation against the Sowetan newspaper over the article.

Van der Merwe denied the racism allegations and said the newspaper was defaming its name.

“The allegations are not true. The newspaper didn’t even consult us. They didn’t phone us for comment,” he said.

He also took issue with its “whites only” headline.

Van der Merwe said another case of intimidation was also opened with the police, after the building’s manager received threatening text messages.

“We received threatening SMSes from an Economic Freedom Fighters member who threatened to burn our building, but the EFF claims it’s not from them,” he said at the time.

Mangena, meanwhile, said the commission would be meeting with Van der Merwe later today.

“He will be coming to our offices in Polokwane today. This meeting will form part of our investigation.”

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