Ndebele activist Mahlangu forgives Boulders manager for faux pas

Thando Mahlangu says he has forgiven a centre manager who recently asked him to leave Boulders Shopping Centre because he was dressed in traditional Ndebele attire.
Thando Mahlangu says 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

A Johannesburg shopping mall manager who kicked Ndebele activist Thando Mahlangu out of 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 (CRL) 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 on Thursday. This was the first time they had 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 Property 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 Prof David Mosoma.

Statistic SA estimated the Ndebele population in SA sits at just over a million people in its last available census. One man is striving to revive the Ndebele language and culture in the country. Thando Mahlangu was thrown into the national spotlight after he was refused entry to a Click’s store at Boulder’s Shopping Centre in Midrand in March 2021. MultimediaLIVE takes a look at the damning perceptions the activist faces daily.

The commission recommended that Redefine Property should reinstate Maponyane.

“Redefine Property 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 its malls in Gauteng, in collaboration with the commission, to promote awareness among South Africans of the diversity of cultural, religious and linguistic communities and their rights.

“The company is to review its policies in respect of public engagement in all of its properties and to empower its employees by providing them with training about cultural and religious diversity in SA 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 practise their culture and learn their mother tongues,” said Mahlangu.



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