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Herman Mashaba apologises for 'insensitive' ebola remark

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba.
Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba has apologised for his comments following a citizen’s arrest of a man transporting cow heads.

Mashaba faced a lot of backlash after tweeting that he had arrested a man who was transporting cow heads on a trolley.

Among other comments he made, Mashaba said at the time that the meat also posed a potential risk of an ebola outbreak.

He was lambasted for, among others, embarrassing a person who was attempting to make a living through the selling of the meat. Others said that instead of ridiculing the man, he should have called in health inspectors and experts to advise him on how he can make his business more professional.

His apology, which comes two days later, follows an indication from the South African Human Rights Commission that they would be looking into the comments he made which could be regarded as a violation.

“I also apologise for what has appeared to be insensitivity towards the plight of informal traders in our City, attempting to earn a living,” Mashaba said in a statement.

“With the benefit of hindsight, I can appreciate how my comment offended people with its insensitivity.”

Mashaba said that his comments were not meant as an attack on “any person or group – informal traders or our foreign residents”.

“I am not above making a mistake and, when I err, I am willing to humble myself and apologise unreservedly to our residents,” he said.

He has now made a u-turn on “stopping” the “illegal act in our city” and is now roping in health inspectors to work with the meat hawkers and other informal traders to “understand the safety standards of the City and why they are so important”.

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