An Eastern Cape artist claims to be the legitimate designer of the South African flag.
- The design of the South African flag is by former State Gazetteer Frederick Brownell.
- The Eastern Cape artist went to the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, claiming Brownell had used his design.
- Thembani Hastings Mqhayi claimed the flag was one of five designs he submitted to the government for selection in 1994.
An Eastern Cape artist who claims to be the legitimate designer of South Africa’s flag has taken Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Natha Mthetwa to the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to compel him to provide details of how the flag was created.
Tembani Hastings Mkai, 56, has claimed for years that Frederick Brownell, who designed the flag, stole his designs and passed them off as his own.
Brownell died in May 2019 at the age of 79 and was hailed as a hero after working at the National Archives of South Africa as a State Gazetteer from 1982 to 2002.
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Mqhayi is a senior civil servant at the Eastern Cape Department of Arts and Culture in Makhanda as cultural affairs manager.
In court documents, Mkhai claimed the flag was one of five different original designs he submitted in early 1994 to the office of the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture.
He said this was after he heeded the call of then President Nelson Mandela, who publicly called for artists and citizens to submit their designs for the future flag of the new democratic South Africa.
In an affidavit, Mkhai said:
I have not retained a copy of any of the designs which I sent to the office of the first respondent.
“I submitted five different original designs and one of my designs was later accepted and used to create the flag as we know it,” Mkai’s affidavit read.
In an affidavit filed as part of his court plea, he said:
Unfortunately, I also never received any credit for my work, and to date the design of the flag has been attributed to the then State Herald, the late Frederick Brownell, who was also part of the group that selected and is said to have recommended to the President the chosen design for the new state flag. flag.
The first defendant in the lawsuit is the Minister of Sports, Art and Culture, and the second defendant is State Herald.
In his affidavit, Mkhai said he sent the five drafts through the main post office in East London.
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In a statement, Mqhayi’s spokesperson, Bandile Magibili, said the legal action was filed after Mthethwa, the State Herald and the State Attorney failed to disclose relevant information about the design of the flag.
Tembani Hastings Mkayi
Mogibili said Mkhai’s lawyers had submitted a request for information under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) in July 2021, but it had been ignored.
Mkai wants the court to compel Mthetwa to disclose:
- The name and position of each person who served on the Heraldic Committee that selected and approved the flag design for recommendation to the President;
- Minutes of all commission meetings at which flag-related projects were approved and/or discussed;
- Names and contact details of all persons who have submitted projects in relation to the creation of the flag;
- A design approved by the commission or second respondent for the creation of the flag;
- The selection process followed in approving and/or rejecting flag designs;
- The final recommendation of the design committee was presented to the president for approval.
“Minister Nathi Mthethwa had 30 days to respond to Mr Mkhai’s PAIA request and/or submit a request for an extension of time.
Minister Mthethwa did not make any request for extension of time or respond to the request and in terms of section 27 of PAIA, the same is deemed to be a failure of the first respondent’s office to respond to the PAIA request and hence the cause of this application,” said Mahibili.
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Mtetva’s office could not be reached for comment to News24’s queries. Their response will be added when received.