‘Gupta’ slur: mayor accepts cop’s apology

2013-06-05 00:00

NEWCASTLE Mayor Afzul Rehman has accepted an apology from the Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) officer who called him a “Gupta” and has said 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 May 3 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 yesterday, 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 May 22 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.”

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.