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There was outrage over ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema calling Indians “coolies” at a gathering in Thembelihle, south of Johannesburg, according to reports on Thursday.
“Bana ba lena ba tshwanetše ba dumelelwe gore ba tsene sekolo le bana ba makula mona [your children must be allowed to go to school with coolie children],” he was quoted as saying by Business Day newspaper.
Over 600 residents had gathered to hear Malema speak ahead of planned marches for “economic freedom” in Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Minority Front leader, Amichand Rajbansi was outraged by Malema’s pronouncements, according to the report.
“Mr Malema is doing great harm to social cohesion and inter-racial harmony,” Rajbansi was quoted saying.
He urged the African National Congress to take steps against Malema.
ANC spokesman Keith Khoza said the ruling party was not aware of the matter. “But certainly we expect ANC leadership to be responsible in any pronouncement... they need not offend other communities,” Khoza told the newspaper.
Malema’s comments showed the African National Congress’s policy of non-racialism had been scrapped, the Christian Democratic Party said on Thursday.
“The previous government, often labelled the apartheid regime, 20 years ago scrapped the last racial legislation.
“The ANC has over the past 17 years re-introduced numerous racial laws. Surely, it cannot claim to be non-racial,” the party said in a statement.
The Afrikanerbond said Malema’s racial slur, directed at Indians, demonstrated the intolerance of individuals within the ANC toward minorities.
“The polarisation of South African communities will develop into a hostile climate unless the ANC act drastically and with discipline in their own ranks,” chief secretary Jan Bosman said in a statement.