Mahlangu forgives Boulders manager for faux pas

29 April 2021 - 17:19
By Mpho Koka
Thando Mahlangu said he has forgiven a centre manager who recently asked him to leave Boulders Shopping Centre because he was dressed in traditional Ndebele attire.
Image: Twitter via Kgopolo Mphela Thando Mahlangu said he has forgiven a centre manager who recently asked him to leave Boulders Shopping Centre because he was dressed in traditional Ndebele attire.

A Johannesburg shopping mall manager who kicked Ndebele activist Thando Mahlangu out the centre “because he was dressed inappropriately” should make a public apology in person to Mahlangu and be reinstated as per Mahlangu’s wish.

This is a recommendation made by the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural‚ Religious and Linguistic Communities which investigated the matter.

The commission released its final recommendations on the Boulders Mall incident in Midrand involving Mahlangu and the manager of the mall, Jose Maponyane.

Maponyane caused a stir when he was recorded berating Mahlangu for wearing his traditional Ndebele attire at the centre. Mahlangu and Maponyane both appeared at the commission yesterday. This was the first time they appeared together in the same place since the incident.

Mahlangu was accompanied by his business partner Nqobile Masuku and adviser Hotlot Masemola. Maponyane was with his legal team. Redefine Properties management, which owns the Boulders Mall, was present at the last session led by its CEO Andrew Konig.

“Mr Jose Maponyane is to make a public apology in person to Mr Thando Mahlangu on April 29 2021 at the CRL Commission, and for him to undergo training on religious, cultural rights and cultural diversity,” said commission chair professor David Mosoma.

The commission recommended that Redefine Properties reinstates Maponyane.

“Redefine Properties to reinstate Mr Jose Maponyane as he was also a victim of a lost heritage created by past inequalities. This is a special request made by Mr Thando Mahlangu which is endorsed by the commission,” said Mosoma.  

The commission also recommended that the company hold a cultural exhibition on March 24 every year in all of its malls in Gauteng, in collaboration with the CRL Commission to promote awareness among South Africans of the diversity of the cultural, religious and linguistic communities and their rights.

“The company is to review its policies in respect of public engagement in all of their properties and to empower their employees by providing them with training about cultural and religious diversity in SA in order to promote cultural, religious and linguistic rights of the communities and to recognise cultural and religious diversity,” said Mosoma.

Maponyane apologised to Mahlangu and Masuku. Mahlangu accepted his apology.

“I am not angry at him. He needs to go back to work. I forgive Mr Maponyane. I challenge all South Africans to practice their culture and learn their mother tongues,” said Mahlangu.

The company welcomed the commission’s recommendations.

“Redefine Properties acknowledges and appreciates the role played by the Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Rights Commission (CRL) and supports and respects its work in enforcing these rights as entrenched in our Constitution. We welcome the recommendations made by the CRL Rights Commission and look forward to engaging further with the commission to consider their recommendations and incorporate them into our current initiatives,” read their statement.

“We agree with the CRL's statement that this matter is an indication of a national crisis in South Africa, which amongst others, includes the lack of public knowledge, awareness and respect for cultural and religious diversity in South Africa. We support the need for all South Africans to be aware of and to be educated on the traditions, rights, religions, culture, language and heritage of all communities. The incident is a reminder to the nation that we all need to constantly push ourselves, our workplaces, and our communities towards more diversity, inclusion and cultural acceptance.”