WATCH | JP Smith says 'joke' about Abongile Nzelenzele's surname was taken out of context

Cape Town MMC says he's aware of the video snippet making the rounds on social media and the 'humorous' comments around it

08 September 2021 - 16:25
City of Cape Town mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith.
City of Cape Town mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith.
Image: Trevor Samson

City of Cape Town mayoral committee member JP Smith says his “joke” about broadcaster Abongile Nzelenzele's surname was misunderstood and taken out of context.

A video of Smith “refusing” to pronounce Nzelenzele's surname because it has “too many vowels, too awkwardly placed” is making the rounds on social media and has triggered wide-ranging public condemnation and accusations of racism.

Smith made the joke as he took to the stage to address the city's film industry.

“To our MC Abongile, I'm not going to try that surname, dude. It has too many vowels, too awkwardly placed. [You] need a short, compact one like me: Smith.” 

Smith told TimesLIVE there was no ill intent behind the joke and that he was aware of the video snippet making the rounds on social media and the “humorous” comments around it.

“I have already spoken to Abongile. He said to me there was a whole range of humorous remarks made by him and others at the start of it, that he took no offence and didn't see anything offensive in the comment,” said Smith. 

He added that Nzelenzele had previously made fun of his own surname. 

“There is context to it. I just spoke to him now and he took no offence. [People] are being shown a portion of the proceedings, so it is easy to [take it] out of context, but we are speaking about a person and that person himself did not see any offence in the remarks.”

This was also shared by the City of Cape Town in a statement on social media.


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