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Labour dept’s employment equity event hijacked by racist, homophobic virtual hecklers

A hand rests on a laptop computer under dark lighting, implying misbehaviour. Andrew Brookes/Getty Images

A hand rests on a laptop computer under dark lighting, implying misbehaviour. Andrew Brookes/Getty Images

  • The Department of Labour launched the Commission for Employment Equity report on Thursday morning, but te event did not go as planned virtually.
  • Those tuning into the event through Zoom heard two hecklers shouting racist and homophobic slurs, disturbing the event.
  • The department opted to continue with the event in person, while the hecklers were eventually kicked off of the virtual link.

The Department of Employment and Labour suffered some technical glitches when the virtual link to its launch of the Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) annual report was hijacked by hecklers on Thursday.

The launch of the report was held in Midrand, Johannesburg, on Thursday morning. However, reporters and other stakeholders who were not based in Johannesburg were invited to view and participate in the event through a virtual link on virtual meeting platform, Zoom.

The mishap underscores the mishaps that corporate and government events have had to navigate since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, which confined most South Africans to their homes and made virtual meetings online commonplace for most professionals.

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As the event started, those viewing it on Zoom heard what appeared to sound like two young American men arguing over the audio of the event. It is unknown how these individuals got access to the meeting.

Ironically, the individuals could be heard shouting homophobic and racist slurs while CEE chair Tabea Kabinde was presenting a report on workplace harassment.

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While the event was scheduled to start at 09:00 in the morning, the hecklers were only silenced after 10:30. The department has not responded to questions from Fin24 about the incident but pressed on with the event.

The CEE annual report is compiled to monitor the state of employment equity and workplace representation in terms of workforce, management, leadership and ownership of businesses in South Africa.

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