File photo: African News Agency Archives (ANA)
This week we learnt of two tragic racial incidents (among many previously reported in the mainstream media) in Somerset West and Cape Town in which two black African managers became victims of abhorrent racial prejudice that continues to plague our new democracy.

Not so long ago we heard of the plight of Tinyiko who worked for Old Mutual who was made to feel like an outcast by her peers and work colleagues, all because she was a black female despite her impressive academic record and management capabilities.

I thought hard and sincerely before I decided to make a response on such typical racial prejudices in our society which continue unabated, sometimes in a subtle manner - often brazenly. 

If we do not consciously confront such malpractice in our everyday lives and whenever it rears its ugly head, then we will have failed to truly transform our society for the benefit of current and future generations. So some of us refuse to silently accept it and will use any platform or instance to confront it.

The Somerset West incident was of a black manager being allegedly fired through termination of his contract for what was deemed a “business decision” at the local Mugg & Bean outlet in the mall. But the real reason was seemingly some of its white clients not being comfortable about the black manager being in control of the outlet, comes to mind.

We are told after an appeal in the Labour Court, post such a horrible decision and possibly the negative aftermath for the business concerned, that the gentleman was reinstated into an “alternative post” to possibly “make the necessary balance and comfort to all concerned”. 

We are therefore left to ask, who are the real victim(s) here? Mugg & Bean management, its customers or, more significantly, the black person?

Have management, the owners of the franchise or the customers who complained using the race card, paused to think about the emotional toll and indignity caused to the person concerned as well as the millions of us black people and the overall South African population by their callous actions of trying to cover the matter by claiming “they should have been allowed to handle the matter internally as a company without public involvement”?

We also heard of another black KFC manager somewhere in Cape Town who was fired for dubious reasons - how long must this be tolerated without acknowledging the negative consequences this has for long overdue nation-building based on the principles of fairness and equity, free of racial bias and dignity for all.

These incidents are but the tip of the iceberg of the pervasive racial cancer in Cape Town, a city that prides itself in being one that embraces first world practice and standing. But in reality it is a city of two halves. 

Perhaps it is not surprising given the arrogance of the current premier linked to the DA who repeatedly and brazenly heralds the need for us black people to be grateful of the abhorrent colonial past?

At this rate it will take us years to reverse such racial tendencies which have tragic consequences for all South Africans. For there is no victory to be attained in pursuit of continued racial polarisation instead of us genuinely embracing each other as equal South African citizens deserving of mutual dignity and fairness in whatever we do or circumstances we are in.

I therefore refuse, as a conscious South African, to fold my arms and do nothing while sitting in the comfort of my home, work, societal, political or business environments.

I call on all my fellow South Africans and society at large to confront his cancer. That is the least we owe to all those who have been, and continue to be, the subject of racial bias and discrimination just because of their blackness.

If we don’t do that, disaster looms for this country as this matter remains a ticking time bomb that might ignite further polarisation and negate efforts to genuinely transform our long-suffering citizens 24 years after our democracy from the shackles of apartheid.

Gco Mkunqwana

Gugulethu