Tea with Helen: Thuli Madonsela touches on whiteness, poverty & social justice

08 October 2019 - 13:21 By Unathi Nkanjeni
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela and former DA leader Helen Zille.
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela and former DA leader Helen Zille.
Image: Twitter/Thuli Madonsela

Former DA leader Helen Zille and former public protector Thuli Madonsela recently sat down for another cup of tea. This time, Madonsela joined Zille on her recently launched podcast, Tea with Helen.

Earlier this year, the pair met “over tea with citrus cake, nuts and cucumber” to discuss Zille's controversial tweets about privilege.

This time, they shifted focus to issues such as whiteness, poverty and social justice.

Here are five quotes from Madonsela:


“The term whiteness has two meanings. One is the God-given nature of colour and the second one is what you call 'white tendencies'.”

Devaluing people

“The world is distorted because of devaluing certain people and we have to be honest about it. Patriarchy has been at the core of devaluing people. Racism has been at the top devaluing people.”

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Social justice

“Social justice is about embracing the humanity of every human being and making sure that no human being is excluded from opportunity or confined to disadvantage because of their colour, gender, sexual orientation or nationality.”


“In SA we suffer from two pathologies. One is the valorising victimhood and the other is to pretend that victimhood doesn't exist. There are people who think, because of the new constitution, we are now equal.”


“Poverty determinates are not just money, but also social networks. If you are poor, but your network is affluent, then your poverty is absorbed by it.”