Bruce Lee, a newly-elected Tshwane MMC, has dismissed xenophobic and racist utterances made against him and clarified that he is in fact, a South African.
Following his election as Tshwane mayor, Randall Williams announced his first mayoral committee last week which included Lee as the MMC for Economic Development and Spatial Planning.
Shortly after the announcement, people took to social media where Lee was one of the pivotal topics of discussion.
“I have noted that there has been significant interest in the Members of the Mayoral Committee (MMC). In particular, it seems that MMC Bruce Lee due to his name has caught a lot of interest, especially on social media,” Williams said in a statement on Monday.
“This is of course welcomed. However, I have been deeply disturbed by some of the openly xenophobic and racist comments that have been directed against him.”
Many questioned Lee’s appointment and his citizenship status in South Africa. Others took jabs at Lee, who shares a name with the late martial artist and movie star.
Lee told News24 he was not aggrieved by the xenophobic and racist slurs hurled at him and that as far as the Bruce Lee jokes were concerned, he had heard them all.
Lee also felt it necessary to clarify that he is not a Chinese national, as alleged by some of the commentators, but rather a naturalised South African.
While Lee was born in Taiwan, he moved with his family to South Africa when he was 9 years old in 1989. His family settled in Ficksburg in the Free State.
“I grew up in the Free State, played rugby, and married an Afrikaans wife. How much more South African do you want me to be?” Lee joked.
Lee said: “This is my home, South Africa is my home and I have no intention of going anywhere, that is why I got involved in politics.”
Lee added that he loved South Africa and wanted to build a future for all those who called the country home, including his children.
Lee said he was no stranger to comparisons with his namesake and the jokes that followed. Then again, Lee went to school with a Michael Jackson and a Charlie Brown.
However, Lee’s first name, just like the late actor’s, was only a Christian name, not his given name. Lee’s birth name is Tsung-wei Lee.
The MMC told News24 when his family moved to Ficksburg, his father became friends with the mayor of the small town and it was this mayor who thought it would be funny to call him Bruce. The name stuck.
Williams said the Tshwane leadership would not be distracted nor deterred by xenophobic statements on social media and that they were focusing on restoring service delivery to the capital.
Williams had also put Lee in charge of addressing issues relating to the opening of Mandisa Shiceka Clinic in Hammanskraal.
“I requested that a report on resolving the issues at the clinic, to serve at the mayoral committee urgently, so that we can deal with the outstanding matters and ensure that this clinic is opened to service the community,” Williams said.
“I understand that the majority of outstanding matters relate to the land transfer, ownership and powers of attorney. Once this report has been approved by the mayoral committee it must then go to council where I hope that all parties will ensure it is ratified.
“While the clinic is not being built by the City, but by the provincial government, it is important to maintain intergovernmental relations on matters like this.”
He said he had “no doubt that Cllr Lee will chop through the red tape delaying the opening” of the clinic so that they were able to hand it over to the community.
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