Probe into ‘racist’ Sunday World column

2011-02-28 13:31

The SA Human Rights Commission is investigating a complaint about a racist column on coloured people written by Sunday World columnist Kuli Roberts.

“We received a formal complaint about the article this morning,” the commission’s spokesperson Vincent Moaga said.
“We will look at it, assess it and see how to handle it.”

Moaga could not say who had lodged the complaint.

In her column Roberts remarked that coloured girls were the future “for various reasons.You will never run out of cigarettes,” she wrote.

“You will always be assured of a large family as many of these girls breed as if Allan Boesak sent them on a mission to increase the coloured race.

“They are the closest thing to being a white woman and we know you black men love them as they look like they’ve popped out of an Usher music video.”

“They have no front teeth and eat fish like they are trying to deplete the ocean” and that “they love to fight in public and most are very violent”, she continued.

Roberts’ column comes amid a furore over remarks made about coloureds by government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi.

Manyi, then the director-general of labour, said in a show broadcast on KykNet’s Robinson Regstreeks in March last year that there was an “over supply” of coloureds in the Western Cape.

The ANC distanced itself from Manyi’s remarks, saying they were “disturbing” and “unacceptable”, while Cosatu said the comments would inflame fears within the coloured community.

Government Communication and Information System deputy chief executive Vusi Mona apologised for the remarks on Manyi’s behalf.

Manyi is not the first public official to be in trouble over racist remarks about coloureds.

In 2005 the spokesman for City of Cape Town, the late Blackman Ngoro, was fired after referring to coloureds as “beggars, homeless and drunk on cheap wine”.

Neither The Avusa group, which owns the Sunday World, or Roberts were not immediately available for comment.

City Press editor Ferial Haffajee said she “nearly fainted” when she read column written by Roberts.

“I nearly fainted when I read it,” Haffajee told Sapa on Monday. “I thought we well past that kind of racist sexist writing.

“That kind of blatant racism and sexism is so yesterday. It’s the kind of writing that gets us into trouble with our readers.

“If I was the editor of the newspaper, I’d read the column and make sure it did not get printed.”

Haffajee said that firing the columnist was not “the way to go”.

“I think she should apologise,” Haffajee said.

“I think the paper should apologise and give its readers the right to reply.”

The Sunday Times, also part of the Avusa group, fired its controversial, cigar-smoking columnist David Bullard for writing a racist column in 2008.

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