Gautrain operator Bombela Concession Company has apologised to the Ndebele cultural activist and author who was barred from boarding the Gautrain due to his traditional outfit being deemed inappropriate.
Saturday Citizen reported on how Thando Mahlangu was humiliated more than a week ago at the Johannesburg station when he was told he would not be allowed on the train because of his Ndebele attire.
The incident grabbed the attention of Gauteng transport MEC Ismail Vadi, who said it was “completely unacceptable” that Mahlangu, 34, was prevented from boarding the Gautrain due to his cultural attire.
Vadi called on the Bombela Concession Company to review its policy and ensure that personnel were trained on respecting religious and cultural diversity.
“For any person to be discriminated against based on his or her cultural background is totally unacceptable,” Vadi said.
“Our country’s cultural and religious diversity should be embraced and respected.”
Kesagee Nayager, the company’s marketing and communications executive, said at the weekend they tried to talk to Mahlangu to get to the bottom of the matter, “but he refused to speak in English”.
Nayager said they were in the process of getting an interpreter to help them speak to Mahlangu.
She said they did not promote the prohibition of cultural attire as there was no rule pertaining to the use of cultural attire.
“We would like to use this opportunity to apologise once again to Mr Mahlangu and to assure him that the necessary corrective actions will be taken,” she said.
Ndebele King Makhosonke Mabena condemned the incident, saying it was an exhibition of hatred against Ndebele people.
Speaking through his spokesperson, Prince Msilingwa Mabena, he said “barbaric acts of hatred instigated by individuals or institutions which depend on public money to survive should be condemned”.