“No it is not true. There is nothing like that,” Bennie van der Merwe told Sapa.
He said tenants used the same toilets, only members of the public were barred from using them.
The Sowetan reported that tenants at the Vleissentraal office block in Louis Trichardt convened a meeting after alleging they were told to use separate toilets. They told the newspaper they had enough of the segregation and humiliation.
“There are four toilets in this building. One is for black females, one for black males, one for white and coloured females, and the last one is used by one white male,” a businessman, who did not want to be named, was quoted as saying.
“The toilets are always locked and before we can use them we have to ask for the keys from the white lady managing the building.”
Other tenants, who did not want to be named, also spoke to the newspaper about the alleged racism.
Van der Merwe said some tenants had keys to the toilets and that more would be copied for the rest of the tenants.
“Some of them cut they keys themselves,” he said.
Rita van Schalkwyk, a caretaker at the building, denied the allegations but said one toilet in the office park was reserved for the manager.
“White and black workers use the same toilet. It is not about black or white.”
She said a man had walked onto the premises and insisted on using the women’s toilet. She initially refused to let him use any of the facilities, then suggested he use the men’s. She turned him away after he refused to use the men’s toilet, Van Schalkwyk said.
The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) described the allegations as shocking and had sent a team to look into the matter.
“If they are indeed true, we will immediately launch an investigation.”
The Democratic Alliance said it would perform an oversight visit at the building.
“The DA has zero tolerance for racial division and discrimination, especially after 20 years of democracy,” MPL Jacques Smalle said in a statement.
Smalle said he would urge the complainants to lay charges with the police.
Mangena said it was shocking that there were still reports of facilities being reserved exclusively for the use of white people, 20 years into South Africa’s democracy.
“We would like to reiterate that racism has no place in a society such as ours, which just came out of many years of state-sponsored racism, and we need to do everything to eradicate it,” he said.