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ANC asked to lead a complaint of racism against Rajesh Gupta

29 August 2017 - 09:25 By Claire Keeton
A file photo of the ANC flag.
A file photo of the ANC flag.
Image: Stephanie de Sakutin

Lawyers for Human Rights and the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation have approached the ANC to lead a case of racism against Rajesh Tony Gupta at the Human Rights Commission‚ either as the sole complainant or with them.

The organisations sent a letter to the ANC a week ago appealing for secretary general Gwede Mantashe to take up the complaint against Gupta for allegedly “referring to his employees as monkeys and causing them much distress”.

They hope to get a response from the party by Friday. Similarities between this case and that of former estate agent Penny Sparrow for racism – whom the ANC reported to the Equality Court – prompted the groups to ask the ANC to lead the way.

Sparrow was found guilty for her racist attack comparing black beach goers to monkeys on Facebook and fined an effective R155‚000. She was also sentenced to two years in prison‚ suspended for five years.

Neeshan Balton‚ executive director of the foundation‚ and Sharon Ekambaram from Lawyers for Human Rights said in the letter to the ANC: “The ANC has taken highly commendable leadership of previous similar cases ...

“As you recall‚ the ANC was the complainant in the case against Penny Sparrow for use of the same racist terms as those used in this instance by Rajesh Gupta.

“The ANC‚ under your leadership‚ has lead other similar historic cases against racism‚ such as that against DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard.

“We are confident that you will see this complaint as a vital step in the ongoing process of combatting racism in South Africa.” The organisations offered to help secure funding for the costs of the Gupta complaint.

They want Gupta to pay R150‚000 compensation to two guards and R150‚000 to institutions that work against hate speech. They also want him to tender an unconditional verbal apology‚ attend equality sensitivity training and perform community service.

ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa has not responded to queries about the request. Leaked e-mails suggest the alleged outburst by Gupta was not isolated. The e-mails reveal that the Guptas preferred to engage white staff as hostesses‚ butlers and spa therapists.

The following incidents are also recorded in the business correspondence of Gupta companies Sahara and Oakbay:

October 2‚ 2012: Sahara employee to G4S general manager Leonard Zaal: “Monday evening I was not on duty‚ but I understand that G4S did not hear … when Mr Tony called them repeatedly to inform them that a guest would be arriving. The incident aggravated Mr Tony so much that he called them monkeys … Now the G4S night shift feels negative.”

October 2‚ 2012: Tegeta employee to Sahara employee: “We need a good office Admin (senior old white lady with good experience).”

February 23‚ 2013: Heilbron manager to Tony Gupta: “All staff are WHITE! I included this point in the final quote.”

April 22‚ 2013: Gatsby Spa director to a Platinum Africa executive: “We have come to the conclusion that it would be in neither of our best interests to bring in part-time white staff for your very important guests.”

August 21‚ 2014: Spotlight agency official to Oakbay employee: “I need to get more white ladies. I am struggling to find ‘pretty’ ladies that are available.”

September 16‚ 2014: Unhappy Gupta employee to managers: “You do not take care of your struggling and lowly paid employees‚ especially blacks.”

September 23‚ 2015: Sahara employee who had found a tenant for Atul Gupta “but he is Nigerian”. Gupta replies: “No to point one”‚ on renting to this person.