| A Black shoplifter holds his shirt after he was covered in white paint in Secunda, South Africa. (Reuters)
Johannesburg, Sept. 18 (Reuters): South African rights groups expressed outrage today after a young Black man was painted white for allegedly stealing from a supermarket in a conservative rural town.
Police said they found Evans Madonsela covered with paint after he was accused of shoplifting food from the Shoprite supermarket in Secunda, Mpumalanga on Monday.
“He was covered all over, including his face. He has suffered because of the paint on his face,” said police spokeswoman Captain Sibongile Nkosi.
The incident, which made headlines in national newspapers today, occurred just days after a teenage girl in Limpopo province was awarded 25,000 rand ($2,362) in damages after she was humiliated in a similar way two years ago.
The South African Human Rights Commission said the incident was a degrading form of punishment “reminiscent of a medieval and archaic era” and had no place in the new South Africa.
Madonsela, who was charged with shoplifting and released on bail, has accused two Black security staff of dousing him in paint while another white security guard looked on.
He has laid assault charges against the supermarket chain, which has denied any wrongdoing. “Shoprite Checkers strongly denies that any member of its staff was involved in the alleged painting of the alleged shoplifter and it has the assurance of the independent security company that their employees are neither responsible for such actions,” the retailer said in a statement.
Nkosi said the security guards told police that Madonsela had painted himself after he was locked in a security room where tins of paint were stored.
“What is puzzling us is that he was handcuffed at the time. We are still investigating,” Nkosi said.
Newspaper pictures showed a red-eyed Madonsela with paint covering his face, hair, torso and arms.