ANC youth leader under fire for racial slur against Indians

Johannesburg: South Africa`s ruling ANC`s firebrand youth leader Julius Malema, who was recently convicted of hate speech, has landed in yet another controversy by allegedly using a racial slur against ethnic Indians, calling them "coolies".

His remarks, which he made in an indigenous language, during an address to the residents of an informal settlement near Lenasia, a sprawling Indian-dominated township south of here, have sparked outrage among the community which demanded firm action against him.

30-year-old Malema, the ANC Youth League leader, told the residents of the settlement, which has seen unrest for several weeks now over a lack of service delivery by government, that their children should be allowed to go to "makula" schools.

"Makula" is an indigenous language derivative of the word "coolie," considered extremely offensive since the days of apartheid by all South Africans. It has been outlawed alongside other derogatory racist terms of the apartheid era in terms of the new Constitution.

Veteran Indian politician Amichand Rajbansi of Minority Front called for the ANC to take firm action against Malema. "Malema is doing great harm to social cohesion and inter-racial harmony," Rajbansi was quoted as saying by media. ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza said although the party was not yet aware of the incident, it expected all its leaders to avoid offending any community.

Malema is currently facing disciplinary action for allegedly bringing ANC in to disrepute with public outcries in recent months against his actions, including his call for an invasion of neighbouring Botswana to oust its government. He was also found guilty of hate speech in the South Gauteng High Court in September but has been granted leave to appeal.