South African Leader’s ‘Anti-Indian’ Comments Spark Controversy

The party has defended Julius Malema’s comments, saying racism against African people by Indians must come to an end.


Indian businessmen in South Africa have slammed the ‘racist’ comments of  Julius Malema, the leader of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, even as the party refused to apologise over the issue. While members of the Indian community threatened to file charges against him, South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) was reported on August 2 as saying that it hasn’t received a complaint yet.

Malema sparked controversy when he said Indians had monopolised the economy, and accused them of racism and exploiting African workers while addressing supporters in KwaZulu-Natal on Saturday.

Indian Community Condemns

Ashin Singh, the convener of the South African Minority Rights Equality Movement (Samrem), objected to Malema’s remarks, saying they would file criminal charges against him and take him to the Equality Court for his comments. “We’ve reached a point where enough is enough and we will take him to court, court is not like parliament,” Singh was quoted as saying by SABC News.

“It’s a dignified place for civilised people who make intelligent comments, he must take the witness stand testify under oath and he won’t be allowed to put up his show as he does in parliament.”

Malema’s comments, in which he labelled Indians as being ‘worse than Afrikaners’, also drew criticism from African National Congress member Visvin Reddy. “He (Malema) has harmed the good work we have been doing to unite people,” Reddy said, according to IOL. “In every society there are people who exploit others, ­but he has painted the whole community with the same brush.”

EFF Refuses to Apologise

EFF, however, came to Malema’s defence. Party spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi released a statement, saying, “Each time we come across the suffering and oppression of our people, we shall not mince our words, nor tiptoe around false minority feelings…  the racism that African people suffer in the hands of many Indian businesses and families must be condemned and must come to an end.

Malema’s Remarks

During his address, Malema had said:

“This is not an anti-Indian statement, it’s the truth. Indians who own shops don’t pay our people, but they give them food parcels.”

Following the incident, Schabir Shaik, controversial Durban businessman of Indian origin and former advisor to President Jacob Zuma, called him a misinformed fool. Shaik, who was released on medical parole in 2009 after being convicted on charges of fraud in 2005 and sentenced to 15 years in prison, said, “This fool is misinformed and does not have any insight with regard to business ownership in KZN,” News24 reported. “Why does he not talk about Huletts and other big, white capital and business in the province.

Ndlozi responded to Shaik’s censure by advising him to focus on his “fake illness” and called for his parole to be reviewed.

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