Man says boss called him a baboon and assaulted him

2014-12-10 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG businessman is embroiled in a racism storm after his worker claimed that he repeatedly called him a k***r and a baboon.

Jabulani Shabalala, a stock receiver, said his employer, whose name is known to The Witness, has been verbally abusing him since 2007. The 54-year-old told The Witness that his employer told him he had “applied for a firearm to shoot me”.

He said a scuffle broke out between them when his boss allegedly assaulted him at their workplace on Friday and he opened a common assault case at Loop Street police station.

“He used to call me a k***r and changed to a baboon. Do I look like a baboon? No, he is racist. I told him to stop calling me names but he continued to do so and said he would fire me,” he said.

“He said I won’t do anything because I’m not educated and the law is on his side. I’m humiliated. This hurts me a lot and I have been patient far too long. Enough is enough. He better fire me.”

Shabalala said he had previously submitted an invoice to his employer who wrote the word mfene (meaning baboon) next to Shabalala’s signature.

He said he asked his employer why he was assaulting him and he replied, “I’m not beating you but I am beating a baboon.”

When approached for comment on the matter by The Witness, the employer laughed and said, “He [Shabalala] is acting like it [a baboon].”

He admitted calling Shabalala a baboon but said “that was many years ago”.

He denied other allegations levelled against him and said he was not aware of the criminal case that has been opened.

“He’s the one who assaulted me. I have done nothing wrong,” he said.

He then hung up the call.

Shabalala’s colleagues declined to comment.

Shabalala said it was unfortunate that the country recently celebrated 20 years of freedom while “racism continues to rear its ugly head”.

Police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker confirmed that a case of common assault was opened and is being investigating.

SA Human Rights Commission spokesperson Isaac Mangena said although they have not received any complaint, the matter amounts to hate speech and racial intolerance.

“We are against any form of racism. Calling another person a baboon or by the k-word is not allowed, it’s an act of hate speech that constitutes a clear violation of both the right to equality and the right to human dignity of the other person,” Mangena said.

“If these allegations are true, we condemn them and call on the Department of Labour to help intervene to ensure the dignity of the victim, an employee of the alleged racist, is restored.”

He said the commission is concerned about the amount of racial intolerance they frequently deal with. “As a country based on democratic principles, we continue to remain concerned when issues of racism resurface. Of all the cases we deal with every month, racism is among the top.”

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