Pietermaritzburg Auto Shop Denies Photo of Shocking Anti-LGBTQ Sign


Before and after? Two photos allegedly taken in the Maritzburg Auto Parts store a few days apart

The owner of a Pietermaritzburg car parts shop has denied that his establishment put up an offensive and illegal sign turning away LGBTQ people.

Last weekend, a staff member of Uthingo Network, an LGBTIQ+ rights group based in Pietermaritzburg, took a photo of the sign, which he alleges was on a wall inside the Maritzburg Auto Parts store.

As photographed, the sign includes graphics of rainbow flags being burned and crossed out and states: “We are a Muslim-owned business. We oppose the LGBTQ agenda. We will not serve any clients who are members of the LGBTQ community.”

The Uthingo Network staff member, who asked not to be named, told MambaOnline: “We were looking to replace a broken car window. We went to that shop and immediately I saw the sign and took the picture. Me and the person I was with agreed that we could not spend our money there, and we left.”

He added: “I was completely appalled that someone would feel the need to write that sign and put it up on the wall. I was shocked.”

Two Conflicting Conversations

MambaOnline reached out to Maritzburg Auto Parts via email and phone on Thursday. We were first called back in response to our missed call. We asked to speak to the owner for a comment about the sign and why it had been erected.

The person on the phone, who refused to identify himself, was combative and said he was not interested in providing a comment. He did, however, assert: “It’s private property, and we have the right of admission. If a person doesn’t know their entry from their exit, they are not welcome here.”

A short time later, we received an email from Sulaiman Docrat, who claimed to be the owner of Maritzburg Auto Parts, and who we then called on another phone number he provided.

Docrat vehemently denied that the sign was ever in his store. He said: “We are a Muslim business, and we don’t support the LGBTQ, but we won’t turn anyone away.”

While Docrat confirmed that the first number we had called belongs to Maritzburg Auto Parts, he claimed that the phone had gone in for repairs and could not explain the earlier phone conversation or identify who we spoke to.

Brian Sibeko-Ngidi, the Director of Uthingo Network, visited the store the next day and found that the sign was not where it had allegedly been before and that there appeared to be other signs in its place.

Spate of Shops Illegally Seeking to Exclude LGBTQ People

Last year, two stores in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape came under fire for placing similar discriminatory signs targeting the LGBTQ+ community.

The owner of the La Gardi store remained defiant, and a complaint against him was lodged by OUT LGBT Well-being with the SA Human Rights Commission. The second store, a car wash, claimed the offensive poster had been placed on its window without permission by an unknown person and it was removed.

A business’s right of admission cannot extend to excluding members of the public on the basis of their race, gender, or sexual orientation. To do so is both a violation of the Constitution and the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act.

Sibeko-Ngidi condemned store owners and businesses that erect signs that seek to discriminate against LGBTQ people. “It is not only abhorrent but also a stark reminder of the ongoing battle for equality and inclusivity in South African communities,” he said.

“This kind of sign is not just a denial of service; it is also an assault on the dignity and rights of individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. It fosters an environment of exclusion and hostility, directly contradicting the principles of equality and respect that every South African business should uphold,” asserted Sibeko-Ngidi.

He said Uthingo Network was considering filing a complaint against Maritzburg Auto Parts with the SA Human Rights Commission.

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