traditional african attire boulders mall clicks

Image via Twitter: @thandomahlangu_

Watch: Cultural activist asked to leave mall over ‘indecent traditional attire’ [video]

“You are wearing Western. I’m wearing African [attire]. In Africa”, cultural activist Thando Mahlangu can be heard saying in the video.

traditional african attire boulders mall clicks

Image via Twitter: @thandomahlangu_

Cultural activist and author Thando Mahlangu on Wednesday 24 March 2021 was harassed at a shopping complex by the centre management for wearing traditional attire. The incident was captured on video.

Mahlangu was asked to leave the Boulders Mall because management didn’t condone his outfit. The mall owner can be heard telling Mahlangu that he was dressed indecently.

We’ve included the video below. A man identifying himself as the mall owner asked Mahlangu and his partner Nqobile Masuku to leave. The incident was captured on video by Masuku.

Booted for wearing traditional Ndebele attire

‘I’m wearing African attire in Africa’

The owner said the mall has “right of admission” before adding: “I don’t condone this in my mall. It’s a public place, you are dressed indecently”

When the man continues to tell Mahlangu that he is not welcome at the mall, Mahlangu and Masuku can be heard defending themselves and their right to wear traditional Ndebele attire.

“You are wearing Western, I’m wearing African [attire] in Africa. Are you telling me I’m not supposed to wear African attire in Africa?”

Cultural activist and author Thando Mahlangu.

‘Right of admission for who?’

The mall owner insisted he won’t allow it because at “his” mall, adding that “right of admission is reserved”. Mahlangu and Masuku can then be heard asking for who right of admission was reserved.

“I’m saying this is a public place. I’m not allowing that here, this is my mall. Right of admission is reserved”.

Towards the end of the short video clip, Masuku can be heard saying, “What a disappointment”. Mahlangu later told SowetanLive that both and Masuku were at Boulders Mall to shop for toiletries.

He explained that a security guard was staring at them and that the mall owner confronted them when they entered a Clicks store because he was “harassing customers with [his] attire”.

“The guard told me I was merely wearing underwear and this was chasing away customers, and due to this, I was not allowed to buy at the mall. I refused to leave and I told the security guard to call the person who instructed him that he must tell me to leave the mall”. 

Watch: Boulders Mall video

Mahlangu said he eventually retreated when the mall owner called security, as he was concerned they might overpower him. He explains that he and Masuku “hurriedly bought half of the items” they needed.

He also adds, “I am grateful that Clicks store did allow us to buy the items, however, I am disappointed that my girlfriend and I didn’t have lunch at the mall, especially because we were hungry, due to the harassment”.

“I left the mall heartbroken and even now as we speak, I’m still not fine emotionally.”

Boulders Mall management responds

Sowetan Live reached out to Boulders Mall management, who in a statement apologised “unreservedly for the incident that took place at Clicks”. Management said they don’t deny entry based on appearance and clothes.

In addition, centre management described the incident as “unfortunate”, as it is “viewed as intolerant towards other cultures and clothes”. That said, centre management added:

“We would like to state that based on various complaints received from shoppers the person in question was asked to leave the store as his underwear indecently exposed him. We neither had nor have any intentions of hurting or discriminating against anyone on the basis of their cultural beliefs and practices”.

Management said the video clip shared by Masuku on social media “does not represent the core beliefs and values” of Boulders Mall, but claims the decision “decision was taken in the interests of other shoppers”.