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A government spokesman and a radio presenter who referred to Indians as “makula”, which has been translated as “c*****s”, during a radio current affairs programme should publicly apologise, North West premier Thandi Modise said on Thursday.
“There is no place for such insensitive name-calling in our democracy as they undermine progress we have registered towards building a united, non-racial, non-sexist, peaceful and democratic society,” she said in a statement.
“(It) should be condemned by all committed to reconciliation and nation-building.”
Modise's spokesman Lesiba Kgwele said the premier was responding to a programme broadcast on North West FM on Wednesday night.
Provincial sports, arts and culture department spokesman Abe Mogashoa had reflected on the attendance of minorities at public holiday celebrations, saying that “even the makula was there”, said Kgwele.
The presenter, Thabo Moyo, then responded by saying: “Yes, I saw them.”
“Both of them concurred and no one pointed out that it was wrong to say that,” said Kgwele.
North West FM station manager, Raymond Makamo, said the station viewed the racial slur in a serious light and would investigate.
ANC Youth League president Julius Malema came under fire when he used the same term in a speech last year.
“There is no person who must live without electricity or water, there must be no child who can't go to school because his parents can't afford to pay for school fees,” he told residents of Thembelihle, near Lenasia, in October.
“All children must go to school. Bana ba lena ba tshwanetse ba dumelelwe gore ba tsene sekolo le bana ba makula mona” (Your children must be allowed to go to school with makula children).
At the time, University of the Western Cape linguistics Professor Rajend Mesthrie said it was understandable that Indians might find the word offensive, but that it should be viewed in the context in which it was said.
“Most of the time, given the right context, it's not derogatory,” he said.
The ANC Youth League later said Malema had not intended to give offence, but said it understood that some might have “received the message differently”.
“The ANCYL will therefore not use the word makula to refer to South Africans of Indian origin, because we appreciate and acknowledge that it is not an appropriate word,” it said in a statement. – Sapa