Cape Town - An advert for a room to rent in Edgemead has sparked outrage because it specified that it was available “for white males or females only”.
The advert, printed in a hand-out called Business Home Ads brochure, has been slammed by the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) as worrying.
Furthermore, the company, which distributes 16 000 copies to nine suburbs in Cape Town, does not see any harm in carrying such material.
The advert read: “Furnished room to rent in Edgemead available immediately… for white male(s) or females only.”
A concerned Edgemead resident, who spotted the advert, but did not want to be named, said: “My blood is boiling because of this.”
The man, who said he had been living in the suburb for quite a while, said: “Some people here are vindictive, nasty and racist… While it’s safe living here, some of the behaviour is unacceptable.
“I’m also disappointed at the publishers and this landlord in particular because there are so many decent black, coloured and white people living in Edgemead.”
When the Weekend Argus called the number on the advert, a woman answered the phone and curtly responded that, “The room had been taken”.
After questioning the content of the controversial advert, she would only say, “It’s confidential”, before hanging up.
The full advert, seen by Weekend Argus, reads: “Furnished room to rent in Edgemead. Available immediately. Also room to rent available first May. Non-smokers, only white(s) or females. Near shopping centre, launderette, transport (and) secure parking.”
Business Home Ads, the company which produces the Home Ads brochure, said there was nothing wrong with the advert.
Home Ads manager Jose Britos said: “The advert is racist according to who? (sic). Advertisers pay for what (sic) ads to be placed and we can’t be held accountable.”
But the SAIRR disagreed strongly.
“We definitely condemn the advert,” SAIRR spokeswoman Lucy Holborn said.
“While we cannot say whether incidents like these are common or not, it is worrying that we are still discussing this type of racism today.”
The country had come a long way in terms of finding this sort of racial discrimination unacceptable, Holborn added.
“Besides the racism displayed by the landlord, it is naive of them to think they can buck a very real and lasting trend of racial integration that has been occurring for a long time now in many of our suburbs, particularly in more affluent and bigger cities.”
An advertising expert, Naz Davids, said: “Simply put, in the advertising world we are not allowed to discriminate at all.
“An ad must be applicable and accommodative to all races.
“I don’t agree with what the company in question did (placing a racist ad).”
There have been several incidents in recent years where landlords or property owners have fallen foul of crude and discriminatory practices.
Leon Schuster and his alter -ego, Mr Bones, hit the headlines in 2008 when it emerged that the sequel to Mr Bones was being filmed at a resort that is open only to whites.
The Broederstroom Vakansie-Oord near Hartbeespoort Dam in North West had been in the news for its racist policies previously when in 2005 Dominic Black and his family were kicked out of the resort because they were accompanied by two black children.
After a complaint to the SA Human Rights Commission, the resort owners were fined R10 000 and ordered to change their racist policy.
Also in 2005, a Durban fashion outlet sparked a raging row when it put up posters banning fat people from applying for jobs.
The Apples clothing factory shop in Brickhill Road put up job adverts which stated: “Wanted pretty ‘black’ floor supervisor. No fatties”.
A second poster blared out the following job offer: “Wanted. Smart ‘white’ salesladies, supervisors – no chancers”.
The HRC said at the time: “Weight has nothing to do with the requirements of the job and it may well be seen as discriminatory.”