Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa condemns treatment of Mr Thando Mahlangu and calls for Gautrain Management Agency to take immediate and adequate action

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08 Nov 2018

Minister Nathi Mthethwa wishes to advise members of the press that he has been learnt with great dismay and extreme disappointment of news reports of Mr Thando Mahlangu’s deplorable and humiliating treatment at the hands of staff and station management of Gautrain who prevented him from the boarding the train because he was wearing traditional Ndebele attire.

Minister Mthethwa has been monitoring developments on this unfolding matter, including his office’s own ongoing attempts to secure an appointment with Mr Mahlangu to invite and engage him and also offer support to him as the Principal of the Department that is the custodian of Culture and Heritage in South Africa, and therefore an institution of refuge to those who suffer prejudice as a result of actively celebrating their Culture and Heritage. It is therefore with great disappointment that Minister Mthethwa has learnt that to date, Gautrain Management Agency (GMA) is yet to take meaningful corrective steps to rectify what has happened to Mr Mahlangu.

In this regard, Minister Mthethwa wishes to advise members of the media that he is in consultation with his counterpart Minister of Transport Dr B. Nzimande regarding this matter with the aim of ensuring accountability by GMA and that GMA does not get away with what in his view is tantamount to the impairment of dignity and the violation of Mr Mahlangu’s human rights.  

“The statements I have been made aware of thus far from Gautrain Management Agency do not seem to appreciate the gravity of what Mr Mahlangu was forced to endure.  I am mindful that according to the GMA, the intolerance shown to Mr Mahlangu- which talks to intolerance of indigenous culture and the display thereof- is not part of its policy. However, in order that we be convinced that this statement is not a mere playing of “lip service”, then let the management of Gautrain take firm action against those acting under its authority, including the staffers and station management concerned. I have it on good authority that Mr Mahlangu is yet to receive any apology, and it is my expectation that GMA personally apologises to Mr Mahlangu, and to meaningfully display that what happened to him should have never occurred including making the statement that it (i.e. GMA) solidly stands fully in support of the freedom of its passengers and will endeavour henceforth to actively promote the Constitution in its support and protection of heritage and culture of its peoples. What Mr Mahlangu experienced is shameful and deplorable, and there can be no excuse whatsoever for however it came to occur.” - Hon. Nathi Mthethwa

For further information and interview requests, please contact: Asanda Magaqa, Spokesperson for the Minister of Arts and Culture- 072 372 6807 (Mobile) ; and asandam@dac.gov.za (Email).

Issued by: Department of Arts and Culture