/ 5 March 2008

UFS video prompts Khoza apology

South Africa 2010 Soccer World Cup chief Irvin Khoza apologised unreservedly in a statement on Wednesday for using the word ”kaffir” towards a black journalist.

In a formal statement issued through the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) following a meeting with that body’s chairperson, Jody Kollapen, Khoza — chairperson of the 2010 World Cup local organising committee — said he had decided on this action after seeing the University of the Free State (UFS) racist video on the news.

Khoza had a week to formally apologise for using the word, or the matter would have been taken the Equality Court.

During a conference, Khoza told a journalist: ”Stop thinking like a kaffir, because you are contriving and misleading about something that is not there.”

Kollapen said the SAHRC, which had received a complaint on Khoza, accepted the apology and regarded the matter as closed.

”I humbly submit to all South Africans that at no stage did I intend to open the wounds and hurt our people suffered from racism,” Khoza said.

”Whereas it was never my intention to use the K-word to demean or impair anyone’s dignity — but to shock a brother to his senses — the revelation of the racist video in Bloemfontein has led me to view my use of the K-word in a different light.

”I do not want to present an opportunity to those whose intention it is to perpetuate racism the convenience of quoting me when they do so.

”I therefore unreservedly and without qualification repeat my apology for using the K-word,” Khoza said.

‘Hurt and Indignity’

The commission last month sent a letter to Khoza saying it had taken note of his remarks involving the K-word.

The commission wrote that Khoza’s statement conflicted with the values of equity and human dignity which were at the heart of the South African Constitution.

It also said that the statement was demeaning to black people in general.

”We understand from media reports that you are reported as saying that you did apologise before making the statement in question and therefore see no need to apologise again,” the letter read.

”With respect, we disagree as the apology could never be said to justify the use of the word, and further, the apology was never intended in our view to cover the idea that was advanced in your statement — namely that black people’s thought processes and intellectual abilities are inferior.”

In conclusion the SAHRC said: ”Your statement has caused hurt and indignity to many South Africans and we do believe that irrespective of your motive at the time you should, in order that we may move forward, apologise to the people of South Africa for the remarks that you made.” — Sapa