Ndebele activist Thando Mahlangu File picture: African News Agency (ANA)
Ndebele activist Thando Mahlangu File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Commission finds Boulders mall manager violated Mahlangu’s cultural rights, calls for suspension to be lifted

By Sihle Mlambo Time of article published Apr 29, 2021

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Johannesburg – The Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Rights Commission, along with Ndebele activist Thando Mahlangu, have called on Redefine Properties to reinstate suspended manager Jose Maponyane.

This comes after the CRL Commission found on Thursday that the Boulders Shopping Centre manager had violated the cultural rights of Mahlangu in an attempt to kick him out of the mall for wearing traditional garb during an incident in March, which was captured on video and went viral.

In the video, the now suspended mall manager described Mahlangu’s dress as “indecent” and requested he leave the mall.

The CRL Commission called on Maponyane to publicly apologise to Mahlangu, which he did.

Mahlangu and the commission have since called on Redefine Properties to lift Maponyane’s suspension as they said the company did not provide cultural and diversity training prior.

Boulders Shopping Centre mall manager Jose Maponyane squared up with Ndebele activist Thando Mahlangu over his traditional dress at the mall in March. Picture: Screengrab

They called on the property group to observe, every March 24, the day of the incident, a cultural exhibition which would promote and celebrate diversity.

CRL Commission chairperson Professor Luka David Mosoma said Maponyane was a victim of “lost heritage”.

Mosoma said a lesson in tolerance and cultural diversity had been taught through this incident.

Mosoma said Maponya should undergo religious and cultural rights training and be reinstated to his job.

In a press statement from Redefine Properties, the company welcomed the findings of the CRL Commission.

“We welcome the recommendations made by the CRL Rights Commission today and look forward to engaging further with the commission to consider their recommendations and incorporate them into our current initiatives.

“These recommendations are aligned with Redefine’s intention to develop a blueprint to ensure recognition and respect of the rights of all communities, as entrenched in our Constitution.

“We agree with the CRL's statement that this matter is an indication of a national crisis in South Africa, which amongst others, includes the lack of public knowledge, awareness and respect for cultural and religious diversity in South Africa.

“We support the need for all South Africans to be aware of and to be educated on the traditions, rights, religions, culture, language and heritage of all communities.

“The incident is a reminder to the nation that we all need to constantly push ourselves, our workplaces, and our communities towards more diversity, inclusion and cultural acceptance,” said Redefine.

The company said it would provide an update at a later stage once it had “consolidated” all the recommendations.

The company has previously committed to undergo diversity training for its staff, under the guidance of the CRL Commission and the SA Human Rights Commission.

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