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Durban: A top rights body in South Africa has been asked to investigate reports that anti-Indian racist statements were made at a recent municipal meeting here, where slogans like “Go Back to Bombay” were also raised.
The meeting was called by the Durban Metro to iron out measures to demolish a historic vegetable market which was started by descendants of indentured Indian workers in Durban 100 years. The municipality wants to build a modern mall in its place.
Chairperson of the Durban Early Morning Market Support Committee Roy Chetty told PTI that they had asked the Human Rights Commission to investigate the racist statements.
“We cannot use racism in this day and age to achieve the further marginalisation of Indian-origin and African traders at the market,” he said.
“The racist remarks are out of place in the new South Africa.” At the meeting, it is reported that senior municipal leaders spoke in a racist manner against the Indian-origin community.
Municipal manager Mike Sutcliffe said that whites and Indians dominated the business scene in Durban and that the mall would give opportunities to black Africans.
However, he chose not to disclose that the new mall would be built by a company headed by a white businessman. The anti-Indian statements continued to raise controversy with people inundating newspapers with letters against the officials who allegedly made them.
In a letter in the Sunday Tribune, local resident Reggie Chellan said it was disappointing “to note that we are 15 years into democracy and people still harbour racial hatred.” Mr. Chellan condemned the racist statements made by Mayor Obed Mlaba; and other municipal officials.
He writes: “Indians have also worked hard and contributed a great deal towards the uplift of this country.” — PTI
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