ANC suspends Matjhabeng mayor after 'boesman' slur

2020-04-08 18:10

The ANC in the Free State has suspended Matjhabeng Local Municipality Mayor Nkosinjani Speelman after he apologised for using a racially offensive word ahead of a Covid-19 operation.

"These utterances are uncalled for from an ANC leader and deployee of the ANC and does not represent the views of the ANC regarding the standing of coloured people in the country," a statement issued by Free State provincial secretary Paseka Nompondo said on Wednesday.

The party said he had violated the its constitution which prohibited and classified as misconduct all forms of racist utterances.

On Tuesday, the SA Human Rights Commission's Thabang Kheswa said it had received a complaint.

Speelman subsequently apologised in a video.

He made the comments while addressing a SA National Defence Force (SANDF) operation to check whether people were walking around in breach of lockdown directives.

The Matjhabeng Municipality includes the city of Welkom.

READ | Welkom mayor apologises for 'boesman' remark

The spokesperson for the ANC in the province, Thabo Meeko, said the party was embarrassed by what Speelman had done, adding an acting mayor would be appointed in due course.

In the video, Speelman uses the word "boesman" to describe people who violate the lockdown rules.

The word translates as "bushman", a blanket term used by colonialists to describe the Khoi and San. It was also used as a derogatory term to describe a person classified as "coloured" during the apartheid era.

"I want to apologise for a statement I made yesterday," said Speelman in the video.

"It was not undermining you - it was just out of [a] mistake. So, I want to apologise to everybody from Bronville, in particular the coloured people. 

"I was not saying it in a bad spirit; it was just a slip of the tongue - to say that these people are giving us a problem… I am humble, [I] feel so sorry for what I have said."

AfriForum is also demanding disciplinary action should be taken against Speelman.

It has written to Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Free State Premier Sisi Ntom­bela and the South African Local Government Association about the matter.

Read more on:    racism

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