Union argues cow heads are a stable diet of many

Herman Mashaba's ebola remarks 'border on xenophobia' - SAHRC

15 November 2018 - 14:08
By Nonkululeko Njilo
The ebola virus. (File photo)
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock The ebola virus. (File photo)

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has rejected an apology by Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba for his remarks about ebola.  And the Human Rights Commission says it will be contacting Mashaba about his remarks "which could be regarded as a violation of the constitution".

The union in Gauteng urged city residents not to accept the apology because it was not “genuine”. 

Mashaba made controversial remarks on Twitter about his citizen's arrest of an undocumented foreign national pushing cow heads in a trolley in the CBD.

He later made a u-turn as anger mounted on social media. "I apologise most sincerely to our residents for my comments relating to the meat also presenting a potential risk of an ebola outbreak. I also apologise for what has appeared to be insensitivity towards the plight of informal traders in our city attempting to earn a living," Mashaba said.

Cosatu provincial secretary Dumisani Dakile said, "The people of Johannesburg must not accept his apology because it is not genuine. Cow heads are a staple diet of many [in] townships all over Gauteng and the surroundings."  

Mashaba in his apology said it was not his intention to attack any person or group.

Dakile said Mashaba’s statements were a slap in the face for small traders and poor households that depended on these traders for food.

The South Africa Human Rights Commission also lambasted Mashaba’s remarks, saying it would look into the comments which could be regarded as a violation of the constitution, reported SowetanLive

Commissioner Angie Makwetla said, "You can't say that people are going to bring ebola. You can't say that. You are scaring people. People are going to be concerned.

"When we come across leaders who make statements which may border on xenophobic statements, which don't even have facts to support them, then we need to be careful. So we will call Mashaba as a leader so that we can talk to him," Makwetla said.