Cape Town - A post allegedly made by a Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries director general on Facebook has landed him in hot water.
The online entry was brought to the Cape Argus’ attention by Shaheen Moolla, an ardent critic of the department who works for natural resources advisory firm Feike.
In an email he referred to a post allegedly made by Desmond Stevens on the website, where the director-general wrote: “My Madiba-installed tolerance level for Caucasians has just expired. My sincere apologies for the harm it might cause in the future. Please stay clear from me if you fit the universally defined descriptions.”
Moolla has lashed out at Stevens’s “blatant racism”, saying he has no place in an office where he is permitted to decide on fishing rights applications made by “Caucasians”.
Of the 303 permit holders in 2013, only 115 were granted the right to carry on with their operations. The previous rights were extended in 2005 and expired on New Year’s Eve.
The majority of the linefishermen not granted rights were white, said Moolla.
“This civil servant will be faced with applications from Caucasians on a daily basis seeking fishing permits, transfer of fishing rights, exemptions or other forms of authorisations pertaining to their fishing businesses… He already apologises for the harm it might cause in future, as if anticipating that his inherent racism will cause harm to Caucasian fishermen.”
There are no signs of the post on Stevens’s Facebook page, at least not for the public to see. Instead, he has replaced his profile picture with a quote saying: “If anything I post offends you please bring it to my attention so I can delete you off my friends list.”
His cover page has been replaced by another quote: “Please don’t get my personal life mixed up with my posts. My posts are for your entertainment not a mirror of what is going on with me behind closed doors.”
After numerous attempts to contact Stevens, where he often turned off his phone or cancelled the call, the Cape Argus eventually made contact with him.
He said: “I refuse to comment, if you have any queries contact the department’s communications office.”
By the time of going to print, there was still no response from the department.
The DA spokesman for Fisheries’ Pieter van Dalen said he had had confirmation that the post had appeared on Stevens’s Facebook page, and he planned to report him to the Human Rights Commission.
“I have been picking up this deep-rooted hate in Parliament for a while… He is trampling on the rights of minorities and he is unapologetic about it,” said Van Dalen, referring to the white fishermen who had lost their rights.
“A lot of us are trying to build a non-racial country and he has broken it all down again… But what it has done, is it opens up the whole fishing rights issue to be challenged and eventually reversed.”