Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities Lulu Xingwana demanded to be upgraded from economy to business class on a flight from Accra, Ghana, according to a report on Sunday.
Xingwana allegedly shouted at a white air hostess “Shut up, shut up, is it because I am a k*****?”, the Sunday Times reported.
She had since denied using the word and shouting, but said she was “shocked by the rude and disrespectful attitude” at her request for an upgrade.
SA Airlines spokesperson Dileseng Koetle told the paper the company had apologised to Xingwana and had explained that it was not possible to seat her in business class even though she was entitled to an upgrade as a platinum member of SAA’s frequent-flier club.
An unnamed passenger who witnessed the incident on Thursday told the newspaper Xingwana had refused to let her hand luggage be stowed away for take off.
“The minister was like a naughty child. She snatched the bag and put it on her lap with her arms locked around it,” the passenger said.
“I was shocked and embarrassed. This was a national minister.”
When an air hostess told her she could not be upgraded to business class because she held an economy class ticket, Xingwana responded: “But I am a shareholder of this company.”
In November, Xingwana said in Parliament that, due to her health, she could not fly “la-la class”. – Sapa