Opinionista Herman Mashaba 13 August 2018

I’m taking on the Guptas over ‘racial insults’

I have taken the decision to approach our courts with the intention of seeking legal recourse against the Gupta brothers, Atul and Ajay, for their alleged racial slurs against black South Africans.

On 11 June 2018, I wrote an open letter to National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams, giving him 60 days to take action against the Guptas following revelations of their corrupt activities and alleged racist behaviour towards black South Africans.

I have not received a response from Abrahams or the National Prosecuting Authority. To me, it is clear that Abrahams does not regard the allegations against the Guptas as serious.

I have therefore taken the decision to approach our courts with the intention of seeking legal recourse against the Gupta brothers, Atul and Ajay, for their alleged racial slurs against black South Africans.

Recently, I had the opportunity to engage with past and present employees of “Gupta TV”, who have relayed to me numerous accounts in which the station’s bosses allegedly uttered racial slurs against black employees, and black South Africans in general.

While these employees have requested, for now, that their identities remain protected from the media, they have indicated to me their willingness to repeat their accounts of insulting behaviour by the Guptas and their associates, for the purpose of court action.

They have also spoken of the toxic work environment at the Midrand offices of Gupta TV.

This information is corroborated by journalist Rajesh Sundaram, a former editor at Gupta TV, whose account of discriminatory and unfair working conditions, mainly affecting young black employees as well as migrant Indian workers, is captured in his book Indentured: Behind the Scenes at Gupta TV.

Mr Sundaram recounts the many demeaning references the Gupta brothers, Atul and Ajay, made about South Africans, especially in connection with alleged laziness and corruptibility.

Moreover, during the now infamous Gupta wedding held at Sun City, it was widely reported in the media at the time that the Guptas and their associates treated local staff with disdain and hurled racist insults at them.

As a black South African, especially one that has endeavoured to excel through diligence and hard work, I cannot in all good conscience sit and watch as the Guptas seek to demean our people.

South Africa’s tragic history of racism and discrimination, especially against black people, demands that we all stand up and take action in defence of our collective humanity.

That is why, in 2015, when the racist Penny Sparrow referred to black Durban beachgoers as monkeys, I was the first to lay charges against her.

I feel compelled to take a similar action again.

I would like to encourage all past employees of Gupta TV, all South Africans, including those employed at the Gupta wedding held at Sun City, who wish to lodge a complaint about racism and discrimination at the hands of the Guptas, to share their personal accounts via: guptatvcomplaints@gmail.com

Following these submissions, I will instruct lawyers to assist complainants to draw up the relevant affidavits. Thereafter, I will approach the Equality Court to ensure justice is done.

I intend to take on the Guptas to prove that, while they may have escaped unpunished due to their close proximity to former President Jacob Zuma, his son Duduzane and the ANC, I do not fear them.

I will meet them with all determination and resolve necessary to restore the dignity of our black people. DM

Herman Mashaba is DA Mayor of Johannesburg, writing in his personal capacity.

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