Cape Town - In a day in which the penny dropped on racism in South Africa with the Penny Sparrow “monkey” scandal gripping the country, Standard Bank dropped another bomb to announce the suspension of economist Chris Hart following a "racist" tweet on Sunday.
Standard Bank said in a statement posted on its website that the bank has suspended Hart pending an inquiry into the events of his commentary on Twitter on Sunday 3 January.
“The inquiry will be conducted in line with the bank’s established protocols and its obligations in law,” it said.
Standard Bank has distanced itself from Hart’s comments and said the outcome of the inquiry will be communicated once the process has run its course.
Hart has come under fire after he tweeted on Sunday that 25 years after apartheid ended, the victims are increasing, along with a sense of entitlement and hatred towards minorities.
In a weighty statement earlier on Monday Standard Bank said the Group is built on a solid set of values, which includes respecting difference in any form: gender, age, race, skin colour, religion, ideology, sexual orientation, or disability. “We also value difference in culture, ethnic or national origin, and political and philosophical conviction.
“As such, Standard Bank Group distances itself from comments made by Chris Hart on Twitter on 3 January 2016. The comments made by him are factually incorrect, make inappropriate assumptions about South Africa and have racist undertones.”
Hart has since apologised, saying “This tweet has caused offense - never intended for which I apologize wholeheartedly. Meant to be read in context of slow growth.”
“We expect our colleagues in every country to at all times reflect the values of Standard Bank Group,” the bank said.
This follows a day of drama in which embattled KwaZulu-Natal realtor Penny Sparrow said that she was merely "stating the facts" in a Facebook post in which she described black beachgoers as "monkeys".
The post was an apparent reaction to litter left behind after New Year’s celebrations.
There has been mass reaction to her statement across social media platforms, as well as from political quarters.
READ: 'It's just the facts' - Penny Sparrow breaks her silence
Standard Bank shares ended Monday's trading session down 1.92% at R111.32.