Malema meant no offence: ANCYL
Johannesburg - ANCYL leader Julius Malema meant no offence when he used the word "makula", which has been translated to mean "coolie", it said on Thursday.
"The ANC Youth League understands and appreciates that some members of society could have received the message differently," the league said in a statement.
It said Malema's remarks on Wednesday were about integrated human settlement and the co-existence of Indians and blacks.
"The ANCYL will therefore not use the word 'makula' to refer to South Africans of Indian origin, because we appreciate and acknowledge that it is not an appropriate word," it said.
The ANCYL acknowledged that Malema used the phrase "bana ba lena ba tshwanetse ba dumelelwe gore ba tsene sekolo le bana ba makula mona" when addressing residents of Thembelihle, south of Johannesburg.
"This was in no way meant to be offensive or derogatory."
Two daily newspapers, Business Day and The Times, translated it as meaning: "Your children must be allowed to go to school with coolie children."
The utterance was greeted with outrage.
The Christian Democratic Party said Malema's comment showed the African National Congress's policy of non-racialism had been scrapped.
"The previous government, often labelled the apartheid regime, 20 years ago scrapped the last racial legislation," Theunis Botha said in a statement.
"The ANC has over the past 17 years re-introduced numerous racial laws. Surely, it cannot claim to be non-racial," he said.
The Afrikanerbond said Malema's racial slur demonstrated the intolerance of individuals within the ANC toward minorities.
"The polarisation of South African communities will develop into a hostile climate unless the ANC act drastically and with discipline in their own ranks," chief secretary Jan Bosman said in a statement.
ANCYL spokesperson Floyd Shivambu said the league's commitment to non-racialism was intact and would never be "submerged by the utterances".
He said the ANCYL's "economic freedom youth mass action" would go ahead as planned in Johannesburg and Pretoria on October 27 and 28.