Chris Hart, chief economist at Investment Solutions. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Economist Chris Hart. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

ECONOMIST Chris Hart has been suspended by Standard Bank pending an inquiry into comments with "racist undertones" he made on Twitter.

The inquiry would be conducted in line with the bank’s established protocols and its obligations in law, the bank said in a statement. "Standard Bank has distanced itself from the comments made by Mr Hart. The outcome of the inquiry will be communicated once the process has run its course," it said.

Mr Hart tweeted: "More than 25 years after apartheid ended, the victims are increasing along with a sense of entitlement and hatred towards minorities." He was taken to task for the tweet, which he later apologised for. He said it was "never meant to cause offence" and that he meant in the context of "low growth".

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has come under fire for an alleged racist comment by a party member in KwaZulu-Natal. Realtor Penny Sparrow who described black people as "monkeys", posted her comment on social media, prompting a backlash on Twitter and by political parties.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane condemned the comment and a criminal complaint was laid against Ms Sparrow by party member Herman Mashaba. The DA served notice of its intention to suspend Ms Sparrow’s party membership and has referred her conduct to its federal legal commission for investigation.

The African National Congress (ANC) condemned the comments of Mr Hart and Ms Sparrow.

"Such comments are reminiscent of the apartheid attitude towards the indigenous people of this country … they further accuse the majority of the country, who are mostly black, as having a sense of entitlement and hatred towards the minority," spokesman Zizi Kodwa said.

"It is sad that well-meaning South Africans have to contend with this backward attitude."

The ANC said Ms Sparrow was among white DA supporters and members who "spewed racist comments" on radio programmes and social media.

The South African Human Rights Commission has launched an investigation into the comments by Ms Sparrow and Mr Hart. Spokesman Isaac Mangena said the investigation could lead to legal steps being taken.

"It is very concerning that 22 years into democracy there are still comments and actions that incite and promote racism. These utterances have gone viral and angered many. They open the wounds of millions who were formerly oppressed by the apartheid government."

Mr Mangena said the commission recognised that the comments did not represent the views of the majority of South Africans.

With News24