By Kaya 959 News
Boulders Shopping Centre manager Jose Maponya has apologised over his comments to Ndebele activist Thando Mahlangu after he tried to chase Mahlangu from the mall, accusing him of dressing “indecently”.
Last month, Maponya made headlines around the country after the incident went viral on social media platforms.
In the video, Maponya is seen speaking to Mahlangu who had walked into a Clicks store, dressed in traditional gear.
Minutes later, a Clicks manager intervenes and allows him into the store. Clicks then filed a complaint with Boulders Mall owner, Redefine Properties. Maponya was then suspended.
Maponya acted upon lack of knowledge
He appeared before the Commission for Cultural, Religious and Linguistic communities following the incident.
“I did not disrespect Thando, I asked him to cover up because it is not normal for people to be dressed like that. It appeared Mahlangu had been partially naked. I spoke to Thando for three minutes and I asked him to cover up for the benefit of other customers,” Maponya said.
He added: “Our country has got different cultures. There is a lot of work to be done. I acted upon lack of knowledge, I wouldn’t say ignorance. Had I known the context behind his dress code, I would have acted differently. I apologise sincerely. It was not my intention to make him uncomfortable at the centre. Had I known better, I would have acted differently.”
CRL Commission chairperson Professor Luka David Mosoma said the incident called for a lesson in tolerance and cultural diversity.
Awareness of human rights in corporate SA
Meanwhile, the South African Human Rights Council and Redefine Properties released a joint media statement explaining that they held a meeting where the talks centred on exploring joint initiatives relating to awareness on the importance of human rights in corporate South Africa.
Redefine Properties agreed to conduct cultural and human rights training sessions with all its front-facing staff and its management as a national intervention under the guidance of the SAHRC.
“The cultural and human rights training sessions will be piloted at the Boulders Shopping Centre within the next three months. Redefine Properties has also agreed to provide the SAHRC with its internal policies in relation to human resources, human rights and diversity for the SAHRC’s input.
“Redefine Properties will, at its own cost, host a cultural exhibition where different cultures will be able to showcase their cultural practices through the display and sale of cultural traditional attire, artefacts and an information session on indigenous knowledge systems, Redefine Properties has contacted Mr Mahlangu and expects to meet with him shortly and welcomes the opportunity for meaningful engagement,” the statement read.
The statement added that Redefine Properties and the SAHRC recognise the significant opportunity that is presented by this matter, in order to illuminate and bring to the fore, the contribution and identity of the Ndebele nation in the broader South African society.
“Redefine Properties perceives itself as a vehicle for change and for the rights of marginalised communities to be respected and upheld,” the statement read.