Estate agent Gabriella Johnson has been suspended after telling a prospective tenant he could not rent a property because the owner was “race specific”.
Pol Osei took to social media on Tuesday to share a WhatsApp conversation between him and Johnson, in which she seemed keen on Osei viewing the property, only to tell him to look for another property later.
“The client is race specific. I would love for you to rent it but she’s very specific,” says Johnson in the WhatsApp conversation.
Following the incident and subsequent outrage on social media, CEO of Live Real Estate Brendan Miller announced that Johnson had been suspended and will “most likely” be dismissed following an internal hearing.
“We are shocked and beyond disgusted about the comments made by Gabriella and we appreciate the outpouring of support and compassion shown towards Mr Osei,” said Miller in a Facebook post.
“I called the tenant, Mr Osei, immediately after learning about the comments made by Gabriella. I also met with Mr Osei and appeared along side him, on a live stream interview on social media.
“Live Real Estate has also advised Mr Osei of the steps to follow in order 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.”
Miller said his agency did not have a contract with the “race specific” landlord as the property was still listed under her previous employer.
Johnson only joined the agency 48 hours before the incident and at the time was still completing the agency’s in-house training which includes the agency’s code of ethics, said Miller.
“I am in constant contact with Mr Osei and he has accepted our apology and understands that this behaviour is not indicative of our company. We have excellent relationships with our clients, staff, tenants and property owners who are all from different ethnic groups and will continue to help build an inclusive South Africa.”
‘I pledge to do better’
Johnson has since taken to social media to apologise, saying she should have called out her client for the racist behaviour.
“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 non 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,” Johnson said on Facebook on Wednesday.
Her previous employer, Tyson Properties, also terminated their contract with the landlord.
“Tyson Properties does not condone or tolerate any form of racism amongst our partners colleagues and clients, we are horrified to learn of the actions of an ex-employee Gabriella Johnson. Tyson properties will refuse to ever work with racist landlords,” it wrote on Facebook.