After the mayor of Welkom, Nkosinjani Speelman, had to apologise for a racially offensive word used during an address to soldiers in his Free State city, he was suspended on Wednesday by the Free State ANC.
He had accused the coloured people in Bronville, among other things, of being drunkards and going on to the streets in violation of the lockdown, and referred to them using the word ‘boesman’.
In the video Speelman among other things called on the SANDF “to go out there and show them that you are soldiers”.
SA Human Rights Commissioner in the province Thabang Kheswa told News24 on Tuesday that complaints were received over Speelman’s comments, which he made on Monday.
Kheswa said the coloured community of Welkom were offended.
Matjhabeng Executive Mayor Nkosinjani Speelman, being racist and giving permission to Soldiers to be violent .@CyrilRamaphosa @SABCNewsOnline @akaworldwide #CoronavirusInSA #SouthAfricaLockdown @GenBheki_Cele #Cele pic.twitter.com/g96ZSunuop
— Zavian (@Zavian85925799) April 7, 2020
In the video, Speelman uses the word ‘boesman’ to describe people who violate lockdown rules and go out when they shouldn’t.
Kheswa said Speelman had apologised and had also made a video of his apology.
“I want to apologise for a statement I made yesterday,” said Speelman in the video.
“It was not undermining you – it was just out of [a] mistake. So I want to apologise to everybody from Bronville, in particular the coloured people.”
He said: “I was not saying it in a bad spirit; it was just a slip of the tongue – to say that these people are giving us a problem … I am humble, [I] feel so sorry for what I have said.”
However, the Free State ANC have expressed ongoing unhappiness with the mayor and explained why he’s now been suspended.
ANC Free State spokesperson Thabo Meeko said that officials of the ANC met and considered the issue “about the unfortunate racist and regrettable utterances”.
“We have learned that Cde Speelman has referred to coloured community members of Bronville in Welkom as ‘boesmans’ who should be subjected to skop and donner (kicking and beating).
“These utterances are uncalled for from an ANC leader and the deployee of the ANC and do not represent the views of the ANC regarding the standing of coloured people in the country.”
The officials decided to temporarily suspend Speelman as both a member of the ANC and a public representative in line with the ANC’s constitution, as Speelman had violated the provision that prohibits and classifies as misconduct “all forms of racist utterances”.
The DA said on Wednesday they would lodge a complaint with the SAHRC about mayor’s “racist, xenophobic and violent comments”.
DA Free State provincial leader Patricia Kopane said: “The DA denounces these racist, xenophobic and violent remarks in the strongest possible terms.
“Vile statements, like these made by Speelman, only serve to divide South Africans at a time when we should all be working together to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
She said since South Africa was still a democratic state, the rule of law and the Constitution should be adhered to at all times.
“The DA urges the residents of the Matjhabeng Municipality, and the Free State, to report acts of violence and abuse by law enforcement officers to the DA on WhatsApp (067 977 9324) or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).”
(Compiled by Charles Cilliers and Molefe Seeletsa)