A former MiWay client has apologised for writing and distributing an email in which the insurance company’s black customers are referred to as baboons.
“I have learnt how dangerous social media can be, if misused, especially in South Africa,” Mondli Madlala said in a statement issued by the company. “I also realise that I put the two MiWay employees in danger and I plan to meet with them, to apologise again in person,” he was quoted as saying.
He wrote an email and made it look as though it had come from a MiWay employee.
It reads: “Good day Nobu. This is a reminder of yesterdays [sic] managers meeting. The final decision was to reject 90% of claims made by black people as from 1 August 2017. They are an easy target, its [sic] also a great opportunity to save money and also punish these black baboons.”
Nobu is an employee in the company’s disputes department who had sent Madlala an email to tell him his claim had been rejected. His subsequent appeal to the ombudsman for short-term insurance was also rejected, which led him to write the derogatory email.
Madlala apologised in a meeting with MiWay CEO René Otto and marketing head Nthabiseng Moloi on Thursday. He said he acted impulsively, without thinking about how his email and social media post would spiral out of control.
The two MiWay employees mentioned in the email accepted his apology. MiWay and the two employees would not pursue charges.
Madlala was identified during a forensic investigation by the company.
“We accept Mr Madlala’s apology and we hope that this is a lesson to many people that you can’t get away with something like this. We trust that this matter has now been laid to rest,” Otto said.
Madlala agreed to give talks at six schools about the dangers of social media, as part of the company’s MiHeart Project.