The award-winning duo, Thabo “Smol” Mabogwane and Bongani “Murdah” Mohosana, say they were publicly humiliated and their reputations damaged by false claims that they were terrorists.
According to the men, they were made to vacate their business class seats on a British Airways flight departing from Cape Town in December to take up economy class seats in order to make way for a white female passenger whose seat was broken.
The pair say the incident was racially motivated, as they were the only two black people seated in business class on that flight, City Press reports.
Smol was accused of raising his voice and causing a commotion on board when confronting cabin crew members for answers and later, the men were asked to disembark the flight because the pilot allegedly feared a September 11 style terrorism attack.
The police were even called to escort the men.
Comair CEO Erik Venter has flatly denied the allegation, saying that the men were downgraded because the tickets they were travelling with were discounted.
The one was a staff member on a rebated ticket, a free upgrade from a previous incident and a third ticket made available through “a marketing initiative”.
The pair had been travelling with two other people from their team.
A draft report from an investigation instigated by Comair following the incident reveals that at least three white male passengers should have been downgraded ahead of the musicians.
Venter acknowledged that the airlines “procedures were at fault” and said that the flight crew involved would be disciplined.
While he issued an unreserved apology to the musos, Venter said Comair would not be paying damages above the R50 000 appearance fee the band missed out on when they were kicked off the flight.
“We do not believe that such a payment will address the principles of racism that you so vehemently raised in the media, but will rather serve to sweep the matter under the carpet,” a letter from Venter to the group read.