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Batjho uyancancabeza u Jose Maponyane (u bhaji ebovu) : by Lucky Professor Mahlangu

Thando Mahlangi, Ndebele activist during an interview outside Boulders Mall

Kwamhlanga- Jose Maponyane, Boulders Mall centre manager appeared before the CRL Commission to share his side of the story, following a complaint by Ndebele activist, Thando Mahlangu.

The incident transpired on 24 March where Maponyane allegedly forced Mahlangu to leave the mall because he was dressed in traditional regalia. Mahlangu was inside a store at Boulders Mall when he was told that his dress code was inappropriate. The accused was later suspended shortly after a video of the alteration went viral on social media.

Maponyane was summoned by the CRL Commission to explain the sequence of events that occurred. During the hearing Maponyane told the commission that he apologised profusely for the incident, however he feels that the incident was taken out of context when the argument got heated. “I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincere apology to Mr Mahlangu with regards to the humiliation, pain and suffering that occurred as a result of the incident that happened on the 24th. It is unfortunate that the incident was misinterpreted as I had a cordial discussion with Mr Mahlangu before the video was taken, which was taken out of context. I deeply regret the incident except that the treatment of Mr Mahlangu was totally devoid of principles of human dignity and equality that underpins our constitution,” he stated.

He added that Mahlangu then repeatedly refused to cover up his body and that is when he asked him to leave when the video was recorded. “The security came back to me and said, Sir, the gentleman refuses to cover up and then I was obligated, as a centre manager to go and address the situation. So, I went there and had a cordial discussion with Mr Mahlangu then I asked him to cover because this is a public space, he said no, I am not going to cover because it is my tradition. I said but you are exposing your underwear. An argument ensued. I then said this is a public space and there are kids in the mall and people are already complaining and if you do not want to, then I will have to ask security to escort you out,” he explained.

Professor David Mosoma, CRL chairperson said it pains him to have seen such a heated argument over traditional attire. “I seat here with a very painful heart because I would have expected this behaviour or this interaction not between people who themselves have suffered so much in the loss of their culture and their identity,” he said. He further added that the commission will study all the evidence of the incident and then make remedial recommendations later in April.

In the meantime, Mahlangu continues his journey of IsiNdebele activism and cultural awareness. Last weekend he spoke and spread the word of ethnic pride at Mementos lifestyle, Emthambothini with Zodwa Mabhena and Sonkingana who are both IsiNdebele artists (singers).

Xolisile Dlou
Journalist, editor, writer and content creator