Cape Town - The Department of Tourism has referred allegations of racism by the owner of Sodwana Bay Guest House to the South African Human Rights Commission for investigation.
Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom has instructed the Department to take immediate action after a prospective visitor to the guest house in northern KwaZulu-Natal complained about the racist accommodation policy at the establishment.
An email directed at the prospective client of Sodwana Bay Guest House has gone viral on social media, after a representative of the lodge refused the booking on racist grounds. The email reads, "Hi. We do not accommodate black or government officials any longer." Since then Andre Slade has since done a radio interview in which he said he could not mix with another race and that blacks are not people". Read News24's coverage here.
Minister Hanekom said in a strongly-worded statement on the matter being reported to the SAHRC, that "racism will not be tolerated in South Africa".
'We will take strong action against discrimination'
"Racial discrimination is absolutely unacceptable to all freedom-loving South Africans,” says Hanekom. “There is no place for any form of discrimination in any sector of our society. We will take strong action against discrimination wherever and whenever it appears, regardless of the perpetrators.
"That is the only way to protect the rights and dignity of the vast majority of our people, who are living together with each other in a spirit of genuine reconciliation and togetherness every day. Those who think they can continue practicing racism will not be allowed to derail our nation’s progress.
'Grossly immoral and illegal'
"We are investigating other measures that can be taken against owners of establishments who practice racism. What they are doing is grossly immoral and illegal. The public must continue to be vigilant, and report any abuse of the rights that we have fought so hard to secure for all the people of our country," said Minister Hanekom.
Since the Sodwana Guest House racism email, South Africa's first ever World Heritage Site, iSimangaliso Wetland Park also filed a complaint with the Public Protector as well as the Human Rights Council.
The Southern African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) added its voice to the outcry again what has been described as unconstitutional policy saying it takes very seriously the comments circulating on social media, and urged its members, and the wider public, to assist us in stamping out the scourge of discrimination by formally raising such complaints through the official mechanisms.
SATSA CEO David Frost said although the Sodwana is not a member, it wishes to make it clear that it "does not condone, and in fact vehemently condemns, any action that would be regarded as discriminatory".
Earlier this year in January, Penny Sparrow caused anger with a controversial Facebook post in which she likened black beach-goers to monkeys. An equality court judgment against Sparrow has since fined the controversial KwaZulu-Natal realtor to pay a R150 000 fine for her racist comments - See News24'ss coverage here.
People who have been victims of racism at any tourism establishment or attraction should report their experience to the Department’s Tourism Complaints Officer, Mmaditonki Setwaba, at 012 444 6312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What to read next on Traveller24:
- KZN guest house: We do not accommodate blacks or government employees any longer
- SATSA slams racist policy of KZN guest house
- 4 Ways to SA's tourism industry can benefit from the Tourism Incentive Programme