Racism against black boy under investigation

It’s been a busy week. This follow-up story focused on the repercussions of the alleged racist camp site in East London that I had blogged about previously. I had written this story for the Cape Times newspaper.

 

I’m told that 13 newspapers had followed up on it. The same story also appeared on the front page of a newspaper in the Eastern Cape province, South Africa, where East London is based.

 

South African radio stations have contacted me for interviews but I just refer them to the persons involved in the story. I’m not the one making the news – just writing it.

 

Below is the follow-up story.

 

http://m.iol.co.za/article/view/s/81/a/158478

 

‘Whites only’ campsite to be investigated

09 January 2012

By Yazeed Kamaldien

 

Investigations are to be conducted into an East London resort where a black child was allegedly turned away.

 

The Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) are to look into the matter, and will include another resort in the area where discrimination has been alleged.

 

The Cape Times reported on Friday that Jaunelle Landman, who lives in Cape Town, her mother, her son and her son’s black friend were to holiday at Lepel Leé. Landman had been told, though, that she could not bring along her son’s friend because he was black.

 

The black boy stayed behind in Cape Town while Landman and her family stayed at the camping site for six days.

 

She said she had gone ahead with the holiday as her mother had paid for it. She added that she did not see her mother often and wanted to spend time with her.

 

When contacted on Sunday, Landman said: “Everything is sorted out. No comment further.”

 

The chief executive of Eastern Cape Parks, Sybert Liebenberg, said, however, they would investigate and take the appropriate action.

 

“We will never tolerate racism in any shape or form. We need to determine if this is a tourism facility, then we will use our legislation and our mandate to deal with it. There are a whole range of legal options that are open to us.”

 

He said they first needed to establish if it was a registered tourism facility.

 

“If it is a private property, racism is still unacceptable. We cannot tolerate this negative effect on our brand. After this incident, we have heard of another place that discriminates against people and we will investigate it too.”

 

He could not as yet provide details of the other resort.

 

An SIU official, who declined to be named, confirmed that they, too, were investigating both resorts.

 

He said because the investigation was under way, he could not provide further details other than to say that they planned to “deal with racist entities”.

 

The DA in East London is also looking into the matter. The DA’s John Cupido said he had visited the “private smallholding” on Saturday to speak to the owners.

 

“I spoke with the elderly couple that own the place. They explained to me that they invite friends or friends of friends to stay there. They feel safer having people around during the holiday season. The place is very unkempt. It’s a smallholding,” said Cupido.

 

“There are a couple of old scattered caravans and shelters for the caravans. You can see by the surroundings and the home of the people (that) it’s not running as a clear commercial interest. We will investigate whether they are running as a business.”

 

Cupido said the owners explained that they were “not making a profit” and that “any money they get is just to cover expenses”.

 

“If it is a case of them running a business, then it is discrimination and that is against the constitution.

 

“We undoubtedly need to find businesses that do this and make an example of them. The (tourism) agency will shut them down and I will be a full supporter,” said Cupido.

 

The camp site owners referred all Cape Times queries to Cupido. When contacted earlier, one of the co-owners, who declined to give her name, would not say directly whether non-whites could stay there.

 

An East London newspaper reported at the weekend that one of the owners, Dus van Heerden, “vehemently denied that blacks were barred from using his land”.

 

There has been strong online reaction to the initial story published in the Cape Times and also on the newspaper’s website on Friday. Hundreds of comments were left on the newspaper’s website while the story also caused debate on Facebook and Twitter.

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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