After a video of a Bedfordview Licensing Department employee making statements described as racist was viewed by thousands on social media, the City of Ekurhuleni spokesperson, Themba Gadebe, confirmed on Friday afternoon that he had been dismissed.
The Bedfordview Edenvale News reports that prior to this, they sought out the employee to give him the right of reply. Despite making several attempts, no comment was received.
Senderwood resident Gavin Sharples said he stood up against what he described as unfair treatment and racist remarks by the employee at the licensing department on May 20.
He was at the department to renew his licence, when he noticed an employee reprimanding a male teenager.
“The employee started shouting at the young man for not using his language of choice. He told him he should not speak English to him. He called the young man stupid and continued to belittle him,” claimed Sharples.
“I stood up and told the man to put some love in his heart. He told me he has no love in his heart,” Sharples told the News.
His wife then began to record the incident.
“He said, ‘You white people, I don’t like you’,” Sharples said.
“I asked to speak to his supervisor while he continued making racist remarks in front of his supervisor. All the supervisor said was I should put a complaint in writing and submit it,” said Sharples.
Sharples said there were many witnesses who could attest to the employee’s behaviour and his treatment of residents at the department.
According to Ward 20 Clr Jill Humphreys, it was not the first time this had happened at the Bedfordview Licensing Department.
“There is no place for racism in our departments or our society. It is very disturbing that political polarisation and rampant social media expression have made it acceptable to make racist remarks.
“Pressure points such as the overcrowded and hopelessly under-resourced Bedfordview Licensing Department are the sad outlet for the rage and frustration experienced by officials and the public,” said Humphreys.
“The bottom line is respect should be the management tool in all these exchanges. Officials dealing with the public should be mentored with proper training and anger management. We simply cannot afford or tolerate the pain of racism,” said Humphreys.
Bedfordview SAPS spokesperson Capt André de Jager said a case of crimen injuria was opened at the station and was being investigated.
Crimen injuria involves unlawfully and intentionally impairing the dignity or privacy of another person.
Before the decision to dismiss the employee was announced on Friday afternoon, Gadebe commented that the City was concerned about the video.
“The City assures the public that the matter is viewed in a serious light. An investigation has been instituted to get to the bottom of this,” said Gadebe.
Gadebe added that Ekurhuleni subscribed to Batho Pele principles, which place emphasis on the customer.
The News met the employee in the video and he indicated he would consult legal representation before commenting.