'We only handle white hair'

Langelihle Chagwe

A mother is up in arms after a hair salon refused to trim her 6-year-old son's hair.

Valentine Malevu, 31, of Honeydew on the West Rand, said she was told by one of the hairstylists at Jagged Edge Salon that they did not cater for black people's hair and was referred to another salon.

Malevu said the hairstylist said she could "only handle Caucasian hair. I am surprised that I was sent to another white salon where my son's hair was done."

The incident on May 26 so incensed the mother that she reported it to the Human Rights Commission (HRC).

HRC deputy director of communications Lorraine Molepo confirmed that the commission was investigating a case of discrimination and a violation of human rights.

Molepo said in a highly publicised incident in 2003, HRC chairman Jody Kollapen lodged a complaint after he suffered a similar fate at a Pretoria barber. The equality court fined the shop owner R10000 for a violation of human rights.

The Jagged Edge salon attendant in question, who gave her name only as Lee-Ann, said she was qualified to do white people's hair only after training at a college in Roodepoort.

But Malevu said David Thomas, spokesman for the Employer's Association of Hairdressers and Cosmetologists, said students get trained on how to do Afro or Caucasian hair at colleges.

The HRC has referred the matter to the equality court.