Cape Town: A Cape Town real estate company immediately suspended one of its realtors, after she rejected a query by a potential client, due to racial discrimination.
On Tuesday, Pol Osei, 26, took to social media, where he exposed the conversation he had with a realtor about potentially renting an apartment in the Cape Town central business district (CBD).
His post has since gone viral.
In the WhatsApp text sent to Osei from realtor Gabriella Johnson, part of the conversation read: “The client is race specific”.
When Osei told Johnson it was illegal to be following such a practice and cited the Constitution, she responded: “Cool” and told him to “find another lease or apartment”.
Speaking to IOL, Osei, who currently resides in the Southern Suburbs, said he just started a new job and wanted to be close to work, seeing as his lease was up.
“I spoke to her on Monday afternoon. As a person of colour, you often hear stories about this when seeking places. I thought to myself, whatever happens, happens, and I sent her a message about my inquiry,” he said.
When Johnson brought up the “race specific” aspect, Osei said he was extremely shocked and thought there was no way she could be so blatant.
“I had not even given her my name or any information about myself. Maybe she saw my profile picture. When she said that, I asked her what she meant, thinking maybe it was a typo or she made a mistake,” Osei said.
Osei said the listing for the property was under Tyson Properties and a few people from the company had contacted him, telling him Johnson no longer worked there.
“They told me she left after a disciplinary hearing was held. Several people contacted me, but no one could say exactly when she left,” he said.
On social media, Johnson posted about starting as a franchise owner for Live Real Estate, however, Osei said the company chief executive Brendan Miller contacted him and said Johnson had only been working at the company for 48 hours.
“It is all a little bit grey as to who or what she represented. But, at the end, it doesn’t matter – she said what she said.
“I will be taking this matter further, as this needs to change,” Osei told IOL.
Miller expressed his shock and disgust in a statement regarding the incident.
“I immediately suspended Gabriella and we are following the legal route, as dictated by the relevant labour laws. She will most likely be dismissed at the earliest opportunity, pending her internal hearing. We are guided by the relevant labour laws.
“Live Real Estate has also advised Mr Osei of the steps to follow to report Gabriella and the landlord to the Estate Agency Affairs Board.
“My team and I are already assisting Mr Osei in finding alternative accommodation.
“With regards to the landlord, we did not have a contract, as the property was not listed with Live Real Estate.
“We have reached out to Gabriella's previous agency and we are working on expanding guidelines for other estate agents to also implement, in order to prevent anything like this from ever happening again,” Miller said.
Johnson has since issued an apology:
“I wish to apologise unreservedly for acceding to my clients demand not to accept black tenants to rent their property.
“In hindsight, I should have objected to this request as it goes against my own values, the principles of the company I represent, and our Constitution.
“It is none other than crude racism, which I detest. It was my duty to call it out, which I neglected to do. It was my oversight, for which I take full responsibility and accountability.
“I trust that you will accept my sincere apology. I promise this is not who I am. I should have known better and pledge to do better. (sic)”