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Johannesburg - Three employees at the Vergenoeg Mining Company in Pretoria have accused two senior managers of racially abusing them by calling them k*****s and “bobbejane” (baboons).
The first incident was sparked by a misunderstanding between two black employees and a white colleague, while the “bobbejaan” incident resulted from a broken shifting spanner.
An angry Kgomotso Taelo Maphanga, who works as a millwright apprentice, claimed a foreman used a racial slur against her and a friend following a misunderstanding between them and their white colleague earlier this month.
She claimed the manager, whose name is known to The Star, said: “I’m tired of you bloody k*****s.”
Maphanga, 24, said she decided to report the incident to management. But the manager who racially abused them got away with a slap on the wrist on Monday.
“I was very disappointed with the outcome. They only gave him a written warning,” she said.
The company’s general manager, Kevin Dabinett confirmed Maphanga and another employee had lodged a grievance against one of the managers, but denied the matter had been concluded.
“They are accusing him of calling them k*****s. We are still dealing with the grievance… We are not condoning racism in any form or any shape,” he said.
Maphanga retorted: “When we told the manager we were not happy with the decision they had taken, he said his decision was final. How can someone use the k-word when he is talking to me and get away with it? Nobody has ever called me that before.
“It is so degrading. I thought those days when a white man could get away with using derogatory words when talking to a black person were over. I’m still fuming.”
To rub salt into her wounds, Maphanga was on Wednesday told her contract would not be renewed. This, she believes, was because she reported the racism incident.
She said after Dabinett received a call from The Star on Thursday, he convened an urgent meeting with the union, which she also attended.
“He said he is willing to reconsider his decision… Why is he only willing to do something after he received a call from the media?” Maphanga said angrily.
Another employee, who identified himself only as Sello, claimed he was also a victim of racism recently when he accidentally broke a shifting spanner.
He claimed an engineering manager said: “Die bobbejaan het die bobbejaan spanner gebreek.”
But when he lodged a grievance, nothing was done about it, he said.
Dabinett claims he was not aware of any other incident.