Velaphi Khumalo apologises for calling for South Africa to be 'cleansed' of white people

Velaphi Khumalo (Isabel Venter, Netwerk24)
Velaphi Khumalo (Isabel Venter, Netwerk24)

A government employee who landed himself in hot water for saying the country needed to be cleansed of white people has apologised for his comments.

"I admit that my comments were hurtful not only to white people, but also to black people. My comments were wrong, and I undertake not utter them again in private or public spaces," Velaphi Khumalo said on Friday.

The Equality Court found Khumalo guilty of hate speech after he took to Facebook in 2016 and called for the country to be "cleansed" of white people in the same manner Adolf Hitler targeted Jews.

READ: Man who wanted country 'cleansed of white people' found guilty of hate speech

Khumalo was interdicted from repeating the utterances and was ordered to remove all references to the utterances on any social media or other forms of public communication.

He had told the Equality Court that he was responding to hateful remarks made online by Penny Sparrow and those who sympathised with her.

"At the time I made the remarks I was myself subjected to hate speech, including remarks, made by white people, that affirmed Penny Sparrow's views that black people are 'monkeys' and that we are unclean and undeserving of being let onto public beaches."

He added: "My comments were fuelled by the events of the time, but I should have known better."

Advice to 'fellow activists' 

Khumalo said sympathy for Sparrow made him angry.

"I did not intend to harm anyone. I was hurt and angry.

"The daily experiences of racism to which I as a black man am still subjected in this country, would have indicated to any reasonable observer that I meant no harm."

He added that he accepted that his remarks constituted hate speech.

Khumalo, an employee of the Gauteng government, said that those that he interacted with on a daily basis "will attest that I greatly regret my comments, and that I am not racist and don't believe in tribalism, sexism or prejudice".

He urged "fellow activists" who interact and or managed politically driven Facebook pages "not to allow such platforms to deteriorate into a racists' ranting page".

"I am sure that the purpose of the groups is to engage frankly. However, there is a difference between frank talk and racism. I clearly crossed that line. I hope others in future will take my case as an example, and refrain from making hateful comments."

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