Gautrain bars man in Ndebele outfit, Mthethwa wants apology

JOHANNESBURG - Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa on Friday urged Gautrain Management Agency (GMA) to apologise to Thando Mahlangu for the humiliation he suffered when guards stopped him from boarding the train simply because he was dressed in traditional Ndebele garb.

The 34-year-old Ndebele cultural activist and author said he was recently barred from boarding the Gautrain because his traditional outfit was deemed inappropriate. He complained that the unpleasant experience not only cost him a business opportunity but also left him feeling humiliated.

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Mthethwa said: “I have it on good authority that Mahlangu is yet to receive apology and it is my expectation that GMA personally apologises to him, and to meaningfully display that what happened to him should have never occurred".

Initially, Gautrain management blamed overzealous guards at the Park Station for the anomaly. But it has since emerged that the guards referred the matter to officials from the train service who agreed with them that Mahlangu was "inappropriately dressed" and could not be allowed to board.

The minister said Gautrain management must also make a statement that they stand fully in support of the freedom of passengers and "will endeavour henceforth to actively promote the constitution in its support and protection of heritage and culture of its peoples.”

Mthethwa added: “What Mahlangu experienced is shameful and deplorable, and there can be no excuse whatsoever for, however, it came to occur".

Mthethwa said he will consult with Transport Minister Dr Blade Nzimande to ensure the GMA was held "accountable" and does not get away with impairing Mahlangu's dignity and violating his rights.