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Cape Board not pursuing “antisemitic” matter against Khoisan chief



The Cape South African Jewish Board of Deputies (Cape SAJBD) has decided to accept a formal apology from Chief Aùtshumao Mackie, a member of the Western Cape Khoisan Legislative Council (WCKLC), who allegedly wrote an antisemitic WhatsApp message and verbally abused a Cape Jewish entrepreneur.

The entrepreneur, who cannot be named for his own safety, says he’s still waiting for an “unconditional apology”, and claims that some of what the Cape Board has accepted as evidence is incorrect.

In June, the SA Jewish Report cited an affidavit from the entrepreneur describing an incident in the corridors of the Western Cape High Court in which he said Mackie shouted, “You Jew! You Jews! Go home Jews! You Jews are stealing again.”

In a separate, widely shared WhatsApp message, Mackie criticised the First Nation Collective (FNC), which supports the entrepreneur’s development, writing that “selfishness, self-enrichment, and greed are the basis of establishing the FNC. The person at the centre of this distasteful saga is the Jew [the Jewish entrepreneur], whose parents are originally from Lithuania.”

At the time, the Cape SAJBD said it couldn’t comment as it was still investigating the matter. Now, Cape SAJBD Executive Director Daniel Bloch says, “The Cape SAJBD considered the evidence before it. It found the contents of the WhatsApp message labelling [the Jewish entrepreneur] as ‘the Jew’ to be offensive and derogatory.

“When it engaged with Chief Mackie, he explained that this wording to describe [the Jewish entrepreneur] was based on how he had allegedly introduced himself in the past: that is as a Jew whose parents come from Lithuania. Therefore, it was felt this description of [the Jewish entrepreneur] could be used in communications. Chief Mackie acknowledged that the message could be perceived to be offensive to the Jewish community, and affirmed that this wasn’t the intention.”

However, the Jewish entrepreneur says, “I’ve never engaged in a one-on-one conversation with Chief Mackie, and certainly never told him my parents are from Lithuania – they aren’t. I await an unconditional apology. In a recent court case, he resorted once again to aggressive behaviour, calling me a colonialist.” He says he stands by his affidavit and the antisemitism he experienced in the corridors of court.

“Based on these findings, the Cape SAJBD won’t be taking this matter further, and after consulting with [the Jewish entrepreneur] and his legal counsel, has agreed that a formal apology from the author of the WhatsApp text would be an acceptable outcome,” Bloch says.

“The best way to resolve issues of this nature is through dialogue. The Board has engaged with the WCKLC in the past, having Chief Mackie attending the Yom HaShoah memorial service in Cape Town. This relationship has enabled it to have clear lines of communication and allowed the current issue to be resolved by meeting face-to-face.

“The Cape SAJBD is committed to fighting antisemitism, and will investigate any and all allegations of antisemitism brought to its attention,” Bloch says.

Responding to questions from the SA Jewish Report, Mackie says allegations of antisemitism are “inaccurate”, and that he can’t be antisemitic because he has been invited to Cape Board events in the past.

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