“Racist” Welkom mayor sparks outrage

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By: Sello Theletsane

The executive mayor of Matjhabeng Municipality in the Free State could find himself in hot water following racist remarks he made against the local coloured community.

In a video that has since gone viral, Matjhabeng Mayor Nkosenjani Speelman can be heard addressing an SANDF parade during which he referred to coloured people residing in Bronville, a coloured township outside Welkom, as Boesmanne (Bushmen). Speelman went on further, calling on the soldiers “to go out there and show them that you are soldiers”. He accused people in Bronville of drinking and thereafter going go the streets, in violation of lockdown restrictions. The mayor also expressed his wish for soldiers to remain in the area “for more or less two years”.

Africa News 24-7 sent Speelman a request for comment via WhatsApp which he read but failed to respond to. When later contacted on his mobile, he claimed to be in a meeting and promised to respond. At the time of publication, Speelman had not yet responded.

An outraged Bronville community leader who sent the video to Africa News 24-7 and who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “Speelman, whose views on coloured people clearly reflect those of the ANC is not only racist against coloureds, he is unashamedly labelling us drunkards”.

“What pains us even more, is his call on the soldiers to stay in Bronville for two more years. That he is not calling on the soldiers to stay for two more years in other areas of the city including Thabong, demonstrates he utter disrespect for coloured people.”President Cyril Ramaphosa publicly corrected an army general who said soldiers will go out in communities to skiet, skop and donner. Speelman is now defying his own president by calling on soldiers to skiet skop and donner coloured people in his racist rant and hatred for coloured people,” said the community leader. We call on people in Bronville never to allow Speelman and his ANC colleagues to set foot in Bronville. Why should they come and campaign among drunkards?” asked the community leader?

Marlon Daniels, Patriotic Alliance national chairperson whose party’s constituency is mostly coloured communities, threatened to “lock his arms around Speelman’s throat and deal with him in a manner that he deserves to be dealt with”.

Daniels expressed “disgust and dismay” at Speelman, who he accused of insulting the coloured community.

“What disturbs me more about his utterances is the timing of the remarks which were made in the midst of a lockdown as a result of Covid-19 pandemic. I want to make an appeal to the ANC to address this issue for, it is indeed true the future is not what it used to be. Post-1994 we were talking about the rainbow nation, we were talking about one South Africa in which people unite in a democratic dispensation, and yet we find the first citizen of Welkom doing what he did and saying what he said.”

Daniels added: “It is not something that one can accept. I have to explicitly state that the Patriotic Alliance is not going to fold its arms and be an observer going forward to anybody insulting the coloured community of South Africa.” Daniels said in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro where he serves, the ANC has 50 councillors. “Out of these 50 ANC councillors, the 48 Africans, one coloured and one white, which in my view is very explicit and clear that the representative of the ANC in Welkom in terms of this mayors is in line with the disregard that the ANC has for coloured people in South Africa. In conclusion I want to say I personally have no regard for that mayor in Welkom.”

Concluded Daniels: “How I wish I could have met him personally if not soon, sometime in the near future after lockdown so I can lock my arms around his throat and deal with him in a manner that he deserves to be dealt with.”

If he wants us to go to war, the coloured community is ever ready. Do not undermine us, and this is a warning to him, do not undermine us. We will make a plan to get hold of you, and we will deal with you decisively. For maybe the time has come that we have to deal with you and make an example out of you so that the coloured community of South Africa can find its rightful place in this country and be recognised, let alone be respected.”

Click here to listen to Marlon Daniels’ full audio.

PA attorney Eugene Botha of law firm Erasmus Botha Incorporated said the party would lodge a complaint with the Human Rights Commission of SA. “I confirm that the Patriotic Alliance has instructed us to lodge a complaint against Executive Mayor Nkosenjani Speelman for his statement and utterances made at an army parade and which has been circulating on social media.”

Botha added: “We have been instructed by the Patriotic Alliance leadership to lay a complaint against the Mayor on the basis of hate speech against the coloured community, at the Human Rights Commission.” Botha said they would file papers with the commission “as soon as possible”.