CRL finds Ndebele activist's rights were violated, instructs Boulders mall to reinstate manager

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  • The CRL Commission found the cultural rights of an Ndebele activist were violated by suspended Boulders Mall manager, Jose Maponyane.
  • Maponyane was also found to be a victim of a lost heritage, and his employer has been instructed to reinstate him.
  • Mahlangu accepted Maponyane's public apology following proceedings.

The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Commission) has found, among other things, that the actions of Jose Maponyane against Ndebele activist Thando Mahlangu at Boulders Mall constituted a violation of Mahlangu's cultural rights.

In addition, the commission found that Maponyane acted out of a lack of knowledge of cultural diversity and that the suspended mall manager was also a victim of a lost heritage created by past inequalities.

The Chapter 9 institution's chairperson, Professor LD Mosoma, announced its findings and recommendations at its headquarters in Johannesburg on Thursday.

This comes after Mahlangu was asked to leave the mall due to his attire.

News24 earlier reported that Maponyane said the incident, which was caught on camera and circulated online, was taken out of context. 

A viral video emerged of Mahlangu and Nqobile Masuku being asked to leave the Boulders Shopping Centre in Midrand because of their Ndebele attire.

The pair had gone to the Clicks at the mall when the centre manager and security came into the store to ask them to leave.

In the clip, Maponyane is heard telling Mahlangu that his attire is inappropriate, News24 reported.

READ | Suspended mall manager apologises to Ndebele activist, says video was 'taken out of context'

The CRL commission further found that Maponyane's employer Redefine Property did not offer its employees cultural rights and cultural diversity training.

It also found that it did not have policies that provided for observation of cultural rights and cultural diversity by the company itself as the employer, by the employees, and by the company in relation to its engagement with the public.

To Maponyane, the CRL Commission recommended that he make a public apology in person to Mahlangu on 29 April 2021 at the commission's offices.

Maponyane did this, and Mahlangu accepted the apology.

"I forgive him, Mr Maponyane, for what he did," he said, and the pair sealed their reconciliation with an elbow greeting. 

The commission further recommended that Maponyane undergo training on religious rights, cultural rights, and cultural diversity.

Redefine Property, among other things, was given six months to review its policies and revert to the commission and to empower their employees with cultural and religious diversity training.

In addition, the company was requested to hold a cultural exhibition on 24 March every year in all of their malls in Gauteng to promote awareness among South Africans of the diversity of cultural, religious, and linguistic communities and their rights.

The company was also instructed to reinstate Maponyane as he was also a victim of a lost heritage created by past inequalities.

"This is a special request made by Mr Thando Mahlangu, which is endorsed by the commission," Mosoma said.

The commission, in conclusion, called on South Africans to respect and embrace cultural, religious, and linguistic rights and to recognise the diversity of cultural, religious, and linguistic communities in South Africa.

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