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SA Human Rights Commission acting CEO accused of racism

28 February 2023

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) acting CEO has been accused of referring to senior managers at the institution as “black babies”.

The comments were brought to the fore by the EFF, which has called for Chantal Kisoon's immediate removal.

According to the EFF, Kisoon allegedly made the remarks during a strategic planning session of the commission on February 23. Staff members who were at the briefing are alleged to have leaked the video.

“The acts of Kisoon are not only racist but confirm the SAHRC thrives through infantilising black people, undermining their intelligence and treating them as inferior and incapable,” the EFF said.

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

The SAHRC has confirmed the incident to TimesLIVE and said it was looking into the matter.

“The incident complained about took place on Thursday 23 February at an operational planning event of the commission,” said Wisani Baloyi, acting communications co-ordinator.

“The commission takes racism and racial discrimination in general very seriously and particularly this allegation. It is therefore looking into the allegations and will spare no effort in getting to the bottom of the matter. At the same time, the commission will deal with this matter with due regard to the constitution and the law.”

Asked whether it was considering taking steps against Kisoon, the commission said it was an independent body fully capable of dealing with internal problems.

“It is unacceptable for anyone to fail to respect the independence of the commission and seek to take decisions on its behalf. The commission will announce its decision in a statement.”

The EFF said there was a need for a complete reform of the commission and suggested Kisoon's removal would be the first step.

“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,” it said.

Source: TimesLIVE

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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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