The South African Human Rights Commission will meet Ndebele activist Thando Mahlangu who was ejected from the Boulders shopping centre in Midrand. (Screengrab from video posted on social media)
The South African Human Rights Commission will meet Ndebele activist Thando Mahlangu who was ejected from the Boulders shopping centre in Midrand. (Screengrab from video posted on social media)

SAHRC to meet activist Thando Mahlangu after he was ordered to leave Boulders Centre

By Jonisayi Maromo Time of article published Mar 26, 2021

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Pretoria – The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) was on Friday scheduled to meet prominent Ndebele activist Thando Mahlangu who was ordered to leave a shopping mall in Midrand because of his traditional garb.

There has been a public outcry after a video went viral on social media this week showing Mahlangu, who is also an author, in a heated argument with the centre manager at the Boulders mall, Jose Maponyane, who wanted him to leave a Clicks store because he was “indecently” dressed and declared: “This is my mall.”

“The ... Commission will visit the Sokhulumi Traditional Authority in Sokhulumi to meet with iKosi Mkhambi Mahlangu of AmaNdebele Ndzudza and the Ndebele activist, Thando Mahlangu, who was ordered to leave Boulders Mall due to his traditional attire,” the SAHRC said in a statement.

Civil rights movement #NotInMyName said Maponyane must be held accountable for his actions.

“We are calling for his immediate dismissal. We are also saying it is time for all places like malls to understand that this is Africa,” said the group’s secretary-general Themba Masango, who is himself a prominent Ndebele activist.

“They should understand that Africa and its culture and dress code must be embraced. We want to remind our people that we should never forget who we are.”

On Thursday, senior officials at the company which owns Boulders said they wanted to apologise to Mahlangu in person over the incident. Redefine Properties also said it had suspended the centre manager.

Member of the executive council for sports, arts, culture and recreation in the Gauteng provincial government Mbali Hlophe said she had noted the video “with disgust”.

“It remains shameful that an African man would discriminate against another for merely wearing traditional wear,” said Hlophe.

“It shows we have a long way to go in decolonising the minds of some among us. The man is deemed to be dressed inappropriately by a manager who claims the mall belongs to him.”

In 2018, Mahlangu was allegedly publicly humiliated and barred from boarding a train belonging to Gauteng commuter rail system Gautrain, as his traditional outfit was deemed “inappropriate”.

African News Agency (ANA)

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