Alleged racism: SAHRC spares Olly

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SAHRC manager in the Free State, Thabang Kheswa, and Shirley Mlombo, senior legal officer at the commission. PHOTO: PULANE CHOANE

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in the Free State revealed that it is not in a position to discipline Executive Mayor, Olly Mlamleli, on alleged racist remarks she made during a budget meeting in June last year.
Speaking at a media briefing in Bloemfontein on 08 February 2018, former acting manager and senior legal officer, Shirley Mlombo, said: “The alleged utterances were made in council and the law allows council members certain privileges and immunity.” Mlombo said that Mlamleli was not completely off the hook, however, as the commission would need to send a letter to Mxolisi Siyonzana, Speaker of the council, informing him that council would need to discipline Mlamleli for the utterances she had made.
The complaint against Mlamleli was laid by the trade union, Solidarity, after she had allegedly said: “White people are white because they are cheats and they are cheats because they are white.” Mlombo also said that correspondence on the matter had been sent to Mangaung’s council speaker, Mxolisi Siyonzana, and not Mlamleli, on Monday.
Meanwhile, Solidarity’s Dr Connie Mulder confirmed that the organisation had received the correspondence from the SAHRC. “Our legal team is currently looking at the review and considering whether further action is necessary,” Mulder said in an emailed response to Bloemfontein Courant. Last year, the organisation had also said it would consider taking the matter to the Equality Court, however, when probed whether this course would be the next one the union would be taking, Mulder declined to comment, saying that he would not be able to divulge details on the process going forward. Recently appointed manager at the provincial commission, Thabang Kheswa, assured that despite not being able to deal with Mlamleli on the matter, the SAHRC will keep a close eye on the process, which now effectively is Siyonzana’s responsibility as council speaker. Siyonzana could not be reached for comment.
Mlamleli made her utterances after she had suspended an employee of the metro, Chris Kruger, for a Facebook post where he made racist comments following a video showing an altercation between a black woman and a white man at Spur. Solidarity said it believes that Mlamleli should be measured by her own yardstick of racism and that she takes a taste of the medicine she dishes out to other racists.

Pulane Choane
pulane@centralmediagroup.co.za