Thando Mahlangu wants Boulders Centre to be painted Ndebele style
Johannesburg - A delegation from Redefine Properties, led by chief operations officer Leon Kok, met with Ndebele activist Thando Mahlangu at the Boulders Shopping Centre on Tuesday after a viral video incident at the mall.
In the video, Mahlangu was confronted by the shopping centre’s mall manager, who took umbrage to him showing up at the shopping centre in traditional Ndebele gear.
In the video, the now suspended mall manager described Mahlangu’s dress as “indecent” and requested he leave the mall.
A Clicks on-duty manager came to Mahlangu’s manager, and the beauty retailer lodged a formal complaint with the mall owners about the manager’s conduct the following day.
Kronig said last week that he wanted to apologise “in person” to Mahlangu for the incident.
Speaking to Newzroom Afrika on Tuesday following a meeting with the Redefine Properties delegation, Mahlangu said he wanted to see the property group put pressure on government to advance the 11 indigenous languages, including Ndebele, on television.
He also said the mall was built on Ndebele ancestral land and called on the property group to paint the mall to reflect the colours of the Ndebele culture. In addition, he called for them to house a shop that would sell products that promote African traditions.
“This mall is built in an area where the Ndebeles live. This is the place of amaNdebele. These guys have all the resources to make all our demands happen. If they do not meet them, they do not want to,” he said.
“This mall must be painted (in the colours of) amaNdebele. We want a store that will sell African traditional items. We want all 11 languages to be supported, we want people to be proud of their language and culture, we want people to speak their language and embrace their culture.”
Mahlangu also called for the Boulders Shopping Centre to be renamed, but did not share any name alternative.
“Not one place shows this is the place of the Ndebele. People must know that this is the area that was under the Ndebele people,” he said.
Redefine Properties has yet to provide feedback on the meeting and is expected to do so on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.
Earlier, in a joint statement, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and Redefine Properties said the company had committed to conducting cultural and human rights training sessions with all its front-facing staff and management within the next three months.
“Redefine Properties has agreed to provide the SAHRC with its internal policies in relation to human resources, human rights and diversity for the SAHRC's input,” the statement said.
“Redefine Properties will, at its own cost, host a cultural exhibition where different cultures will be able to showcase their cultural practices through the display and sale of cultural traditional attire, artefacts and an information session on indigenous knowledge systems.”
The SAHRC had met Mahlangu last week.
NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect that the Redefine Properties delegation was led by chief operations officer Leon Kok, and not CEO Andrew Kronig, as an earlier version of the article stated.