South African Indians are being unfairly targeted at the workplace, a minority rights leader has said after powerful Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) accused the community of accommodating their "brothers" in top jobs at the expense of African employees.
There are "great suspicions" that senior Indian staff at the eThekwini Municipality (which includes the city of Durban) was accommodating other Indians at the expense of African people, Samwu Secretary-General, Nahlanhla Nyandeni has alleged.
Indian colleagues seem to be dominating strategic positions in this municipality, he said adding that "Krish Kumar, Derrick Naidoo and Raymond Rampersad are to name a few," Nyandeni told the Weekly Post newspaper.
"We have black people with suitable qualifications for these positions, but for some reason there is a cluster of top officials coming from the Indian community," Nyandeni said.
The union leader was reacting to an earlier strike by workers at a main depot of the municipality who alleged that engineer Raj Dhrochand had been appointed irregularly.
eThekwnini Municipality spokesman Thabo Mofokeng said that the matter has been resolved adding that "there is no sign of racism on our side, but I cannot speak on behalf of the union."
Ashin Singh, convenor of the South African Minority Rights Equality Movement said Dhrochand's case was not an isolated incident.
"Over the past few years, a direct attack has been made on Indians through all levels of government and municipality. This is pure reverse racism and there is seldom any merit to this kind of attack," Singh said.
This type of anti-Indian sentiment proves that Indians were "soft targets and scapegoats," he said.
Commenting on the fact that Indians and Africans had been equally discriminated against by the white minority apartheid government, political analyst Kiru Naidoo said the problems of the country would not be fixed by throwing people out of jobs so that other people could get in.
"For historical reasons, KwaZulu-Natal province and Durban have a large number of people of Indian origin (because the first Indian indentured labourers arrived here 150 years ago)," Naidoo said.
"That history can't be washed away for political convenience," he added.