Controversy over ‘K word’

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The house in Morningside that Mahomed Sacoor converted into a commune. Photo: Bongani Mbatha

Durban - A Morningside landlord is in trouble after unwittingly sending an SMS to a tenant, whom he referred to using the “K word”.

Mahomed Hoosen Hasam Sacoor was overseas and wanted to let off some steam over unpaid rentals regarding his Imeson Road commune.

He tried to express his displeasure in the form of a text message.

Instead of sending the SMS to his son, Sacoor erroneously directed the message to tenant Simukeliso Madlala.

The message read: “Ok.noted. I spoke to madlala now.He has The R1960.He HAD MONEY SINCE FRIDSYwaiting .His tel no.is**********.pls establish time with him. Edwin (another resident)says he will be home by latest 7 pm tonite(Sat) He will give u R3200. Pls phone him @ ********** AS THE BOTH ARE K****** PHONE THEM BEFORE GOING THERE” (sic).

Sacoor soon realised his gaffe and tried desperately to retract the explosive communiqué with repeated messages of apology, but Madlala was not mollified.

Not even Sacoor’s claims to have impeccable anti-apartheid “struggle” credentials or the fact the property owner is receiving psychiatric treatment for a bipolar condition could pacify Madlala.

The 30-year-old Madlala said the January 4 SMS left him emotionally traumatised.

Therefore, he approached the Equality Court.

“Mr Sacoor’s SMS was disturbing and hurtful,” Madlala said.

As compensation, Madlala wants an apology from Sacoor and he’s also claiming damages.

The damages claim relates to costs he’s likely to incur when consulting with a medical practitioner, to overcome the psychological trauma the incident inflicted on him.

The amount is yet to be determined.

They are due to meet in court next month.

In his affidavit, Madlala said the message was supposed to be sent to Sacoor’s son Wasim, but landed in his message in-box.

It related to his outstanding rental.

Madlala said he telephonically arranged with Sacoor, a day before, to pay his rental to Wasim.

But on the day Wasim was due to collect the money, he received Sacoor’s “disturbing” message.

Madlala said he could not understand why he was subjected to such an attack on his dignity, because he always paid his rent on time.

“We’ve always had a good relationship, I never wronged in any form,” he said.

With Sacoor’s family having knowledge of the message, Madlala said that his human dignity had been impaired.

He also alleges the use of the “K-word” may be a common practice in the Sacoor household and such rhetoric is unacceptable in the interests of growing a democratic country.

Madlala said Sacoor’s daughter, who told him she would be handling the commune’s rental affairs from now on, threatened to cancel his lease agreement.

He said the threat came after he refused to deal with anyone other than Sacoor, who was still abroad, and his proposal of paying the rent via a bank deposit did not go down well with the daughter.

Madlala, who works at a bank, said the incident had affected his performance at work, especially dealing with Indian clients. He still resides at the commune but is thinking of moving out.

Sacoor denied having racist tendencies and suggested in his subsequent message to Madlala that the SMS was sent from his son.

It read: “Sorry smu.The word k***** was not adressed to u by me.it is a word sent to me by my son. On behalf of my son and myself I wish to tender my sincerest apologies to this most offensive racial word in our rainbow nation.when I arrive in durban I will bring him in personally to apologise and for u to adress him. I will also apologise to on face. I agree that the word is an insult to your dignity and u are heart sore” (sic).

However, in his replying affidavit, Sacoor said after sending the unintended message, he became anxious. It was not deliberately meant to be sent to Madlala and within minutes, he followed up with five “deeply apologetic” messages.

Sacoor mentioned how he takes heavy medication for his bipolar disorder, which also requires psychiatric care, and he also suffers from sleep apnoea.

While at university, Sacoor claims he “stood up for the struggle against the oppressive apartheid regime”, and is a religious man.

“We never had a fight and there is no reason for me to harm Madlala’s dignity. My apologies for this unintentional error. I respect and will uphold our new constitution,” said Sacoor.

Speaking to the Sunday Tribune Sacoor said the SMS was sent in error.

“It was human error. I don’t feel good about what happened. Madlala and I will try to resolve this issue.”

mervyn.naidoo@inl.co.za

Sunday Tribune


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