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Mmusi Maimane slams cartoon depicting Omicron variant as black and from SA

06 December 2021 - 11:33
Mmusi Maimane slammed a 'racist' and 'factually incorrect' cartoon suggesting the Omicron variant originated in SA. File image
Mmusi Maimane slammed a 'racist' and 'factually incorrect' cartoon suggesting the Omicron variant originated in SA. File image
Image: Alon Skuy

One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane on Sunday slammed a cartoon published in Spanish newspaper La Tribuna, saying it exposes a deep-seated anti-African sentiment about the origins of the Omicron Covid-19 variant.

The cartoon by Javi Salado was published on November 28 in the opinions section of the paper and depicts Omicron as black and travelling on a boat with an SA flag.

Several countries imposed travel restrictions on Southern African countries after SA experts detected and alerted the world to the variant last month. Amid an outcry over the restrictions, with many saying it targets and discriminates against African countries, CBS News reported the variant was present in Europe before it was flagged by SA experts. 

Maimane called the cartoon “nonsense”.

“The Omicron response from the international community has exposed an anti-black sentiment that must be addressed.” 

KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (Krisp) director Prof Tulio de Oliveira said the cartoon was not only racist but also factually incorrect. 

Racism and discrimination are getting out of hand (La Tribuna, Spain). Especially as more than 80% of the initial Covid-19 introduced into SA came from Europe — Tegally et al Nature Medicine 2021. Is it not time to stop the discrimination and face this global epidemic together?” he tweeted on Sunday. 

The publication issued an apology, saying there was no malice in publishing the cartoon. 

“In relation to the Javi Salado cartoon published last Sunday in the opinion section, this newspaper wants to clarify that there has been no intention on the part of the cartoonist to link the transmission of the new variant of the Sars-CoV-2 virus with positions that deviate from the principles of equality and non-discrimination.

“However, both Javi Salado and La Tribuna de Albacete want to apologise to readers who may have felt offended with the aforementioned publication,” said the paper.


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