Mayor accepts 'Gupta slur' apology

2013-06-05 08:22
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Pietermaritzburg - Newcastle mayor Afzul Rehman has accepted an apology from the Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) officer who called him a “Gupta”, and says he intends dropping charges against him.

The comment that sparked controversy and stirred national debate was made by Zwakele Mbatha to Rehman while on duty.

The incident occurred on 3 May when Rehman visited the RTI to renew his licence. While in the queue, Mbatha walked by and remarked, “Hey, Gupta, what are you doing here?”

He allegedly followed this up with a joke about Indians and told the mayor to “Go back to India, South Africa belongs to us.”


Initially, Rehman refused to accept an apology, and he opened a case of crimen injuria against Mbatha.

However, at a press briefing on Tuesday, Rehman said he has agreed to “unreservedly accept the apology”.

Also present at the briefing were the ANC’s Emalahleni regional chairperson Arthur Zwane, Newcastle municipal manager Kebone Masange and Mbatha, who made a brief appearance.

Zwane said Mbatha had addressed a letter to him on 22 May asking for his intervention. He read this letter, as well as the officer’s letter of apology, to the media.

In his letter, Mbatha wrote, “What transpired on the day was not what I had intended, my intention was merely to share a lighter note with the mayor. I now have learned my lesson in a hard way, that which I considered a joke to me cannot be a joke to another person. To this effect I therefore extend my sincere apology to the mayor, his family and the office he serves.”

Rehman indicated he would formally write to the police and ask that the charges against Mbatha be dropped.

“I have explained to Mbatha why I took offence to his comment and he understands my reason for pursuing the matter. We need to be clear that this is not a matter of Indian verses African, rather a matter of a civil servant who acted poorly,” Rehman said.


In a telephonic interview shortly after the briefing, Mbatha expressed relief, but declined to comment on earlier stories that he did not know it was the mayor he had referred to as “Gupta”.

The father of three said he, together with his family, were fearful of the repercussions the incident would have on his career and life.

“The mayor was most welcoming and accepting of my apology and I am grateful.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  racism  |  gupta jet  |  gupta wedding

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