Gauteng Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation MEC, Mbali Hlophe, has expressed dismay at the viral video of a man being turned away at Johannesburg mall for donning Ndebele traditional attire.
The incident took place at a Clicks store in Boulders Mall, Midrand.
According to Thando Mahlangu, who posted the video on Twitter on Wednesday, the centre manager told him he was dressed “inappropriately” before he asked him to leave the premises.
Mahlangu, an isiNdebele activist and author, described the incident as a “saddest reality in Africa”.
The MEC condemned the incident, which happened as the country celebrates Human Rights Month and on the back of the commemoration of the lives of people who died standing up for the recognition of rights for all.
“It remains shameful that an African man would discriminate against another for merely wearing traditional wear. It shows we have a long way to go in decolonising the minds of some amongst us.
“At the heart of the discrimination is a display of a man not comfortable in his own skin, as he projects his self-hate on another,” Hlophe said.
In a statement released on Thursday morning, the MEC said Gauteng was a home for all, “the fabric of which is the melting of cultures, languages and orientations — all of which give this great province its unique character, and diversity”.
Hlophe believes that this incident should serve as a teaching and learning moment for everyone.
“Our Constitution enshrines the rights of all people in the country and affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom.
“Accordingly, everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection without any discrimination, including across culture, language, race, sexual orientation and age,” she said.
The MEC said she will engage with the management of the affected store.
Clicks has since distanced itself from the incident.
In a statement, the pharmacy chain said it did not ask a customer dressed in Ndebele attire to leave the store.
“The centre manager of Boulders, accompanied by the Boulders Centre security, entered the Clicks store and demanded that the customer leaves.”
Moreover, the Clicks store manager intervened and asked the centre manager to leave.
“The customer was allowed to continue shopping. We’re extremely embarrassed by the centre manager’s behaviour and will be putting in a formal complaint,” said Clicks.