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Ndebele attire debacle: Boulders to conduct cultural, human rights training sessions with staff

A video being circulated on social media shows a man dressed in traditional Ndebele attire being told by a shopping centre manager that what he was wearing was inappropriate.

A video being circulated on social media shows a man dressed in traditional Ndebele attire being told by a shopping centre manager that what he was wearing was inappropriate.

  • The SAHRC has intervened after a video went viral in which Ndebele activist Thando Mahlangu is asked to leave by the manager of Boulders Shopping Centre.
  • The commission met with Redefine Properties Limited, the owners of the centre. 
  • The owners committed to providing the commission with its internal policies on human resources, human rights and diversity. 

Redefine Properties Limited, the company which owns Boulders Shopping Centre in Midrand, Johannesburg, has committed to piloting cultural and human rights training sessions within three months, after an incident of cultural discrimination at the establishment.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and Redefine Properties met on Monday afternoon.

The two parties reached various conclusions following a public outcry over the incident at the centre last week.

A video went viral on social media, which shows Thando Mahlangu hounded by the centre manager, Jose Maponyane, who asked him to leave a store because he was “indecently” dressed, News24 reported.

In a joint statement after the meeting, SAHRC and Redefine Properties said their engagement took into account the rights of Mahlangu, his business partner, Nqobile Masuku, and Maponyane – and the Ndebele nation as a whole. 

WATCH | Man in Ndebele attire told to leave Clicks store by mall management for dressing ‘indecently’

They committed that Redefine Properties would conduct cultural and human rights training sessions with all its front-facing staff and management under the SAHRC’s guidance. The training will be piloted at Boulders.

Redefine Properties also agreed to provide the SAHRC with its internal policies concerning human resources, human rights and diversity, for the commission’s input. 

At its own cost, the centre owners also committed to hosting a cultural exhibition, where different cultures would showcase their practices by displaying and selling traditional cultural attire and artefacts, as well as an information session on indigenous knowledge systems. 

“Redefine Properties and the SAHRC recognise the significant opportunity that is presented by this matter, in order to illuminate and bring to the fore the contribution and identity of the Ndebele nation in the broader South African society.

“Redefine Properties perceives itself as a vehicle for change and for the rights of marginalised communities to be respected and upheld,” the stakeholders said in the joint statement.

Redefine Properties was expected to meet Mahlangu after being in contact, to request a “meaningful engagement” with him.

The AmaNdebele royal family’s spokesperson, Prince George Mahlangu, previously told News24 that they viewed the incident with “shock and disgust”. 

On Friday, the SAHRC also met King iKosi Mkhambi Mkhambi Mahlangu, and other senior traditional leaders, following the public outcry, News24 reported. 

SAHRC’s Buang Jones said the purpose of that meeting was to solicit input and reviews regarding the incident.

The commission allowed the royal family leadership to provide input on how the matter should be resolved. 

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