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HRC to investigate Matthew Theunissen

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The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is to investigate Matthew Theunissen after he posted racial comments on social media directed at Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula’s decision to reprimand sporting codes for a lack of transformation.

“I can confirm that we have received complaints on this issue. There is one from the office of Cape Town Mayor (Patricia de Lille) and many other email requests for us to launch an investigation. The complaints we received request us to investigate allegations of racism following a post on social media‚” said SAHRC spokesperson Isaac Mangena.

Mangena said they are currently assessing the complaints.

The Minister’s spokesman‚ Esethus Hasane‚ said when the minister released the report about sports transformation‚ it received a lot of positive reaction from the public.

“The minister believes that such comments from Matthew take us backwards as a country. It’s unfortunate that some people think transformation is to divide people. This (transformation) is to unite all South Africans at national level and all sports codes must reflect society‚” said Hasane.

The Minister also took to his Twitter account‚ saying: “Racist people like Matt insult gov because of its drive to transform SA take us backwards.”

Mangena said that as the Commission they remain concerned about racism especially a rise in incidents on social media.

“It’s one of the reasons we decided to use the celebration of our 20th anniversary by hosting a dialogue in racism in March. We will continue to mobilise against the scourge and are happy that government too has this as it’s top priority‚” said Mangena.

What angered Theunissen was the Minister’s decision to suspend the privileges of SA Rugby‚ Cricket South Africa and Athletics SA from bidding for international tournaments.

In his Facebook account‚ Theunissen wrote: “So no more sporting events for South Africa.. I’ve never been more proud than to say our government are a bunch of K*****S.. yes I said it so go f**k yourselves you black f***ing c***s”.

His comment sparked anger across social media platforms. Some called for government to take action against him‚ while other people threatened to take matters into their own hands.

In an interview with Cape Talk on Tuesday‚ Theunissen denied that he was racist.

The station tweeted: “Matthew Theunissen says he didn’t refer ‘to the whole country in that sense’. He says he’s trying to apologise to everyone affected.”

“I have plenty of friends that are of colour‚” he said during the interview.

According to his Facebook profile which has since disappeared‚ the 26-year-old lived in Cape Town‚ currently works in water resource management and hold a master’s degree in environmental management from Stellenbosch University.

In March‚ the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development launched a national action plan to combat racism.

“We pretended that we are okay but now we realised we are not okay‚” department director general Nonkululeko Sindane said at the launch in Cape Town.

A public consultation will be held in coming months on the action plan‚ which aims to develop a comprehensive public policy against racial discrimination and other related human rights issues such as xenophobia and intolerance.

There have been several incidents this year.

The year began with Durban estate agent Penny Sparrow who described blacks enjoying New Year’s Day on Durban beaches as “monkeys”. A Port Elizabeth pizza delivery man‚ Omoefe Acboriyede‚ was also the target of a foul-mouthed‚ racial rant and a deliberate attempt to knock him off his motorbike – both of which were recorded by his attacker.

[Source: Times Live]
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