Mon, 25 May 2020
8
Fair in Johannesburg/Lanseria

The mayor of Welkom had to apologise for a racially offensive word used during an address to soldiers about to enforce lockdown rules in the Free State city.

SA Human Rights Commissioner in the province Thabang Kheswa told News24 that complaints were received over Nkosinjani Speelman's comments made on Monday.

Kheswa said the coloured community of Welkom were offended.

In the video, Speelman uses the word "boesman" to describe people who violate lockdown rules and go out when they shouldn't.

The word translates as "bush man", a blanket term used by colonialists to describe the Khoi and San hunter gatherers and trackers they encountered on their forays. It is sometimes used to describe a person classified as "coloured" during the apartheid era and can be considered as offensive.

Kheswa said Speelman had apologised and had also made a video of his apology.

"I want to apologise for a statement I made yesterday," said Speelman in the video.

"It was not undermining you - it was just out of [a] mistake. So I want to apologise to everybody from Bronville, in particular the coloured people."

He said: "I was not saying it in a bad spirit; it was just a slip of the tongue - to say that these people are giving us a problem... I am humble, [I] feel so sorry for what I have said."

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