Insult by Penny Sparrow should not be taken lightly - COSATU KZN

Federation calls on all human right activists and peace loving people to confront this attack to black Africans

COSATU KZN Statement on the Racial Utterances by Penny Sparrow and her cabal

COSATU KZN is very much disturbed about continuing racial attitudes by some whites ,who happen to be DA members. Our main concern is that this opens wounds and reminds us of the very bitter history of apartheid, where whites had all the privileges at the expense of blacks, where the first class infrastructure ,such as good beaches were only reserved for whites, where the economy of our country was used to serve the minority whites ,who had access to quality health care, quality education, better jobs through Job Reservation etc, while blacks had nothing.

This is a very painful history that black South Africans have traversed and need not to be reminded of. As we speak today, the progressive movements that drive the liberation of South Africa have adopted the programme to address all these imbalances of the past, the National Democratic Revolution,which the very same white monopoly capital refuses to support.

The insult by Penny Sparrow, a DA member, who has referred to black people as “monkeys or cute little wild monkeys” should not be taken lightly. The black South Africans have now been degraded from human beings to wild little monkeys by her.

Last year COSATU KZN raised concerns that racism was not completely dismantled. While laws have been passed and policies adopted the reality is that in corridors and behind the curtains it still exists and as workers this is what we experience daily in our workplaces. The conduct by people like Penny Sparrow and others is a sign that there are a handful of whites, who still hold the same thinking.

We are also aware that Sparrow was not alone in this conversation; there are others who were involved, where one of the white participants indicated that it was a blessing that centuries ago whites came to South Africa. Therefore her matter should not be treated in isolation of the whole.It is worth remembering that this incident follows a number of similar incidents.

Diane Kohler Barnard ,who is also a DA member recently praised Botha, one of the worse apartheid leaders and voiced her wish for him to come back. This was an insult to the liberation leaders, heroes and heroines, and people of South Africa and international community as ,whole who have fought for the liberation of South Africans. Kohler Barnard was subjected to disciplinary processes but later reinstated.

In November 2015 our Union LEMUSA reported to COSATU that the CEO of TOYOTA BOSHUKU had called workers monkeys and later apologized.

In 2011 the farmer gunned down a black man for what he called an illegal hunting and some farmers have also gunned down blacks saying they thought they were baboons.

Our main worry is that such incidents are not just an insult to our reconciliation arrangement, but also a threat to the future of this country.

It is critical to note that workers continue to experience these racial attitudes daily at their workplaces, some are recorded through workplace hearings and grievance procedures, but many still go unrecorded and unnoticed.

The DA must give full accountability to the South Africans and the society at large as to why some of their members still hold such a view about black people in South Africa, otherwise this sends a wrong message that the DA uses black South Africans as voting objects, and that those who have made it to the leadership positions are used as sweet roses to attract voters or they are part of “some wonderful thoughtful black people” according to Sparrow who was a DA member.

Previously parties such as DA, FF and others have taken to court challenging some individuals for making utterances that they regarded as hate speeches and we expect the same zeal from these organizations, not only on the matter of Penny Sparrow but on whole question of racism.

As COSATU KZN we call on all human right activists and peace loving people to confront this attack to black Africans.Those other participants in the matter of Penny Sparrow should also investigated and that an action is taken against them. The Human Rights Commission to respond swiftly and very quickly on this matter and other related matters.

The Public Protector needs to quickly pronounce action with very clear time frames to be taken against Penny Sparrow and her gangs.

As COSATU in the Province of KwaZulu Natal we will follow and monitor this matter to the end, and as we have done before ;we will be campaigning vigorously for such perpetrators to be brought to book and named and shamed for their irresponsible conducts.

Statement issued by COSATU KZN Provincial Secretary, Cde Edwin Mkhize, 6 January 2016