WATCH | 'I'm not even going to try that surname, dude': JP Smith's awkward joke falls flat

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  • JP Smith's remarks towards an MC drew sharp criticism.
  • Smith was speaking at an event on Wednesday. 
  • In response, he said his comments were taken out of context.

The City of Cape Town's mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, has come under fire for an awkward comment about having difficulty in pronouncing the surname of the master of ceremony (MC) at an event on Wednesday.

Smith made light of his inability to pronounce the surname of the MC, Abongile Nzelenzele, and it incurred the wrath of social media users.

Nzelenzele was hosting the event on behalf of the City's film industry.

Taking to the podium, Smith said he "would not try to say Abongile's surname", because it contained "too many vowels in awkward positions".

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Smith said: "To our MC Abongile, I'm not even going to try that surname, dude... it's too many vowels too awkwardly placed. You need to have a short compact name, like me, Smith... it also ensures anonymity, nobody can find you in the old phone books."

"I will go out and look for you on social media. I'll add myself to your followers, that will be a 4% increase in your fan base. And I like your dry humour ... 'jou jokes was nie flow nie' (your jokes were not stale)."

Speaking to News24 after the event, Smith said his comments were taken out of context.

"I spoke to Abongile and he told me he was not offended by my comments. He knew none was taken, if people are not familiar with people's surnames or familiar with their language. I always take great care with pronouncing someone's surname. With Abongile's surname, I acknowledged I wasn't comfortable with guessing."

Smith added that he always made an effort to pronounce people's surnames. 

"This is a remark taken well out of context and the MC did not see any offence in the remark. He had previously made jokes about his own surname."

Nzelenzele did not want to comment on the matter.  

Social media users, however, ripped into Smith over his remarks.

Some have labelled Smith's comments as racist.


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