Several videos made by the two women, sisters-in-law Mandy Gray and Tanya Stannisis, have since been removed from their “Taj and Maj” Instagram account.
In the videos, the women are seen wearing stick-on moustaches and talk about the goings on in their daily life in a “typical Indian accent”.
The account is still active although the videos have been removed, and it has more than 300 followers.
Popular Instagram account, The South African Desi, which is run by a group that promote Indian culture, was among the users who took issue with the videos on the Taj and Maj account.
Speaking to The Mercury on Tuesday, Stannisis said their videos were not made to cause offence. She said after they were contacted by aggrieved Indian people, they realised the harm they had unintentionally caused.
“My sister-in-law and I always spoke to each other in an Indian accent. It wasn’t intended to cause offence. We have many Indian friends and we are not racist. I have an adopted black child. People who know our hearts, know that we are not racist,” Stannisis said.
In a lengthy letter to the women, which was subsequently posted on the social media platform, The South African Desi said it was with “immeasurable displeasure” that it viewed one of the videos which had “the most blatantly offensive mimicry of the Durban Indian community”.
Their letter explained why the videos were offensive to the Indian community.
“The characters that you have created - Taj and Maj - are specifically designed to speak in a stereotypical Durban Indian accent; complete with slang that is peculiar to the diaspora.
This offence is globally known as “black voice” - when a white person deliberately mimics the accent of any community that has previously been the victim of racism: yes - this includes South African Indian people,” the letter read.
The letter also said that the two women were not excluded from the rule because they had Indian friends and customers or had grown up with Indian people and eaten Indian food.
“I was entirely shocked that Taj and Maj have an entire account dedicated to their desperately unfunny (and further inaccurate) mocking of Indians
“I would like to believe that two quirky businesswomen living in the heart of KZN (the area with the highest concentration of Indians outside of India) could not possibly have created these characters to be blatantly disrespectful,” the post further read.
Stannisis said that after being contacted by The South African Desi, they understood how their videos could be viewed as being racist.
“When The South African Desi explained how offensive the videos were, we were educated. We have removed the videos and will be deactivating the account. We are really sorry to everyone we offended,” she said.
In a response to The South African Desi from the “Taj and Maj” account, the women posted: “We as Durban girls have a bunch of Indian friends, have never meant to cause offence to anyone or race for that matter. We love everything about Indian people. We love the food, we love the humour, we love the accent,” they said.