Public apology by Facebook “Racist” Zama Khumalo

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SAHRC facilitates, welcomes public apology by Facebook “Racist” Khumalo

February 2013

Author : South African Human Rights Commission
E-mail :
URL    : http://www.sahrc.org.za

The South African Human Rights Commission facilitated and welcomed the public apology and withdrawal of all hurtful racial statements posted on social media by the young unemployed journalist Zama Khumalo.

On 24 January 2013, Khumalo posted a comment on his Facebook page relating to a school bus accident, which took place in the Westedene area of Johannesburg during 1985 where a number of school children tragically lost their lives.

In response to statements made by two different individuals with access to the Khumalo’s Facebook page, he made the following additional statement: “On 27 March 2013, I will send out an invite to invite you to come to the Westedene Dam for a BIG Black Braai, (100% Blacks), fireworks, DJ – Black-People, celebrating their death.. and “we will always celebrate the death of whiteness”.

The Commission received thirteen complaints against Khumalo from 6th to 14th February 2013, for these comments made.

The Commission today headed a mediation session between Khumalo and some of the complainants following his racist remarks.

The meeting was attended by the legal representative of Media 24 Limited who are also the complainants in this matter, representatives from the Commission, including its CEO, and the respondent, Mr Khumalo.

The Commission explained the nature of the meeting to Khumalo and the other attendees and the mandate of the Commission in terms of its constitutional obligations. Khumalo was guided through the form and nature of mediatory proceedings. He was advised that the meeting was not intended to be an adversarial hearing with the objective of determining or apportioning blame, but was instead aimed at reaching a consensus in line with principles of reconciliation, directed at understanding motives, perception, nation building and interests.

Khumalo was provided an opportunity to, among others, provide a background of the events which led up to the posting of his comments on Facebook, his personal experiences including the public response which it had elicited, to express his feelings of remorse and regret towards those affected.

This was with the aim to permit a process which encouraged constructive, responsible forward growth and understanding; to convey and confirm the relief sought by complainants; and to reach agreement regarding the terms to be included in a settlement agreement, finalised by the respective parties and made public through the Commission.

Khumalo expressed acute feelings of remorse and regret about the hurt caused to those affected, to Media 24 Limited and the general public.

In his words Khumalo said:
“I (Zama Khumalo) hereby tender my summary and unequivocal apology to the general public of South Africa, the Commission, each of the complainants and the individuals who were either directly or indirectly affected by the tragic Westedene bus accident including those families who lost loved ones. I acknowledge the hurt and pain that I have caused as a result of the comments made on Facebook, which were made in a state of anger and disappointment. I therefore truly and genuinely apologise for making such statements and I accept the terms of the agreement as more fully set out herein and also undertake from this date onwards to refrain from, by word and / or by deed, conducting myself in a manner associated with hate and hurtful speech or racism such as that contained in my previous comments.”

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