A Yogazone class in session. (None of these people featured are involved with the story – Photo: Facebook)

Yogazone stand by Cape Town employee accused of making a “racist joke”

Yogazone are under fire for backing a worker who made a crass remark to a black yoga instructor. But they’re standing their ground.


A Yogazone class in session. (None of these people featured are involved with the story – Photo: Facebook)

Cape Town yoga studio “Yogazone” has received some intense criticism for standing by an employee who made a racially insensitive comment to a colleague.

Kafui Awoonor is a practising yogi and also has her own line of skin care products. A recent video of her recounting her experience with racism in Cape Town’s wellness industry – which she labelled as “toxic” – has gained huge attention on social media, forcing Yogazone into a detailed statement on the matter.

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In the video, the instructor reveals how one of her colleagues made a highly offensive joke about how hot it was in December. Will Lindeque made reference to it being like “working on the plantations”, which had left Awoonor a little dazed before she realised what had been said.

After confronting Will about the words he used, she said the atmosphere felt very hostile towards her – as if she was a troublemaker, upsetting the establishment. The worker defended himself by passing his comment off as a joke, claiming that “race isn’t an issue for him”.

Yogazone issue their apology

Shared via their Facebook page, Yogazone confirmed that Awoonor – a Dutch woman of Ghanaian descent – had left the company in January, as her contract had expired. They have stood by their employee under fire, claiming that he’s “learnt his lesson” from the controversy.

“The staff member is still employed by the Yoga Zone because it is evident from his actions and attitude that he immediately realized it was a grave error and a clearly discriminatory comment regardless of the context and non-harmful intent it may have had.”

“The offending party took immediate and remorseful actions and we feel that this person understands and respects the issues, took full responsibility for them and is genuinely remorseful and apologetic.”

Yogazone also took a swipe at the reaction of people on social media. They claimed that it isn’t a “constructive platform” for a debate which has been presented as very one-sided.

They also believe a lot of the furore was a result of words being taken out of context. In a case filed with the CCMA, it was heard that the “plantation” comment was in relation to a discussion between the offending party and Awooner the day before. Nonetheless, this mitigating factor hasn’t done much to stem the tide of anger.

Also read: Four reasons why you need new software for your relocated yoga studio