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SAHRC mum on acting CEO Chantal Kisoon’s allegedly racist remarks

Feb 27, 2023

Johannesburg - The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has not yet commented following damning allegations of racist remarks by acting CEO, Chantal Kisoon.

A video of Kisoon standing and addressing employees during a strategic planning session, believed to have been recorded by staff members, surfaced on social media.

According to reports, Kisson is heard on the video referring to black managers at the commission as “black babies”.

In the recording, one can hear staff members reacting in dismay; following the “black babies” remark, some members were heard questioning the statement, and Kisoon is then heard denying calling anyone “black babies”.

The commission’s spokesperson, Wisani Baloyi, told “The Star” that commissioners were still in a meeting and could not comment at this stage but would do so later.

The mission of the SAHRC, as the independent national human rights institution, is to support constitutional democracy by promoting, protecting and monitoring the attainment of everyone's human rights in South Africa without fear, favour or prejudice.

The EFF said it condemned the remarks and called for Kisoon’s removal from the commission.

“In an act that was testament to the prevailing culture of institutionalised racism at the SAHRC, Kisoon referred to senior managers as ‘black babies’ during a strategic planning session of the commission on February 23, revealing that racism is endemic at an institution that ought to promote racial equality,” said EFF national spokesperson Sinawo Thambo.

“The acts of Kisoon are not only racist, but confirm to us that the commission thrives through infantilising black people, undermining their intelligence, and treating them as inferior and incapable. It is telling that this is the attitude of such a high-ranking official of an institution that has recently been weaponised by the far-right in South Africa, to pursue the EFF for making historical assessments on the conditions confronting black people in this country.”

Thambo said it was the very same commission that threatened to take EFF president Julius Malema to court for accurately assessing the volatile race relations in South Africa, defined by inequality and land dispossession.

“This very commission cited that the remarks by Malema at the Western Cape Provincial People’s Assembly in 2022 were incitement to violence. Their presumptive logic, which they borrowed from the racist AfriForum, was that African people are of such low intellectual capacity that they would mistake a political address as an incitement to murder,” said Thambo.

He said Kisoon’s comment reveals the perception of black people held at high levels within the commission, which is that black people lack the mental fortitude to comprehend basic instructions because they possess the mental capacity of babies.

“It is an institution whose chairperson is a former apartheid prosecutor and magistrate by the name of Bongani Majola, who was part of the cover-up of the racial assault by Springbok rugby player Eben Etzebeth in Langebaan in 2019.

“This very same commission is yet to release the report into the July Unrest hearings, which shed light on the murder of African people en masse in 2021 through racial profiling and targeting in Phoenix, Durban.

“Kisoon is a confirmation of why all of these clear-cut instances of violence emanating from racism have never been justly concluded by the SAHRC, yet speculative logic by a right-wing organisation, which was dismissed by the Equality Court, is entertained," Thambo said.

He added that the commission needed to be completely reformed.

“This begins with the removal of the acting CEO with immediate effect. The EFF commends the staff for exposing this vile racism and encourages more employees to expose the shenanigans happening at the commission.

“Kisoon must resign with immediate effect, and an inquiry through Parliament must be established on the leadership composition of the commission and how they set criteria for priority cases brought before them,” Thambo said.

Source: The Star

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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