Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa yesterday urged Gautrain Management Agency (GMA) to apologise to Thando Mahlangu for the humiliation he suffered when guards stopped him from boarding the train simply because he was dressed in traditional Ndebele garb.
The 34-year-old Ndebele cultural activist and author said he was recently barred from boarding the Gautrain because his traditional outfit was deemed inappropriate. He complained that the unpleasant experience not only cost him a business opportunity but also left him feeling humiliated.
Mthethwa said: “I have it on good authority that Mahlangu is yet to receive an apology and it is my expectation that GMA personally apologises to him, and to meaningfully display that what happened to him should have never occurred.”
Initially, Gautrain management blamed overzealous guards at the Park Station for the anomaly. But it has since emerged that the guards referred the matter to officials from the train service who agreed with them that Mahlangu was “inappropriately dressed” and could not be allowed to board.
The minister said Gautrain management should also make a statement that they supported the freedom of passengers and “will endeavour henceforth to actively promote the constitution in its support and protection of heritage and culture of its peoples.”