Adam Catzavelos has apologised for his comments which “caused unspeakable pain to every single person in South Africa”.
Catzavelos caused much controversy after a video, in which he uses racial slur, went viral.
In the video, he could be seen on a foreign beach, giving a weather report and mentioning that there was an “amazing sea and not one k*ff*r in sight”.
Catzavelos admitted in his apology statement, published by Jacaranda News, that the video was “thoughtless and insensitive”.
Jacaranda confirmed that the statement was issued by Catzavelos himself.
“I have watched my video and feel total shame. It’s hard to put into words what I want to say and genuinely apologise. I don’t expect people to forgive me, but I will spend the rest of my life repenting and trying to make up for my total lack of respect and judgement,” the statement reads.
In the wake of the video and subsequent outrage, the South African Human Rights Commission received several complaints and the EFF laid criminal charges of crimen injuria against him.
His family announced that he was fired from the family business, St George’s Fine Foods.
The Hellenic, Italian and Portuguese (HIP) Alliance distanced itself from his comments, though it acknowledged that there were still South Africans who harboured similar views.
“Whilst we are of the view that Mr Catzavelos utterances are in the minority, they do nonetheless highlight the need for all of us to redouble our efforts at building a non-racist, non-sexist, democratic South Africa that we can all be proud of,” the HIP said.
The outrage also had an impact on the family business as clients deserted it to express their displeasure.
“I’m disgusted and I condemn fully his actions. I couldn’t believe what he did,” Dragan Krunic, director of the Rib Zone told News24 on Wednesday.
Butcher Boys director Derryck Myers expressed his shock at the news that a key supplier was tainted by racism.
“We had a conference call and we are disassociating ourselves immediately from St George’s,” Myers told News24.
But despite the outrage, a number of social media users demonstrated their support for Catzavelos’ racist comments.
Prior to deleting his social media profiles following the scandal, Twitter user Miguel Victor concurred with Catzavelos’ view, tweeting: “I know how he feels, I’m on a beach in Europe and there’s not one here, lol.”
Pat Dickens tweeted in response: “Spent the day at a beach in China. My sentiments exactly.”
Catzavelos has also been barred from his sons’ private school following the incident.
“Because of the actions of this parent, the matter has, quite rightly, assumed a high public profile,” the school said in a statement.
Catzavelos’ wife works for Nike and though the sports apparel company closed some of its South African stores on Wednesday, they appeared to be trading as normal on Thursday.
“If anything, the Catzavelos case reminds us just how deeply entrenched racial attitudes are and that fighting racism requires dedicated focus across all sectors of society and across all fronts,” said Neeshan Balton, executive director of the foundation set up by the late anti-apartheid fighter Ahmed Kathrada to continue the fight against racism.
The government is planning to criminalise hate speech followed a series of similar cases.