Colchester barracks: Paratrooper called Mandela ‘terrorist’

L/Cpl Nkululeko ZuluImage copyright PA Media
Image caption Nkululeko Zulu said he suffered racist abuse after asking for early holiday

A former paratrooper was racially abused in the Army and heard a soldier call Nelson Mandela a terrorist, an employment tribunal has been told.

Nkululeko Zulu, who served as a lance corporal in the Parachute Regiment, also said he felt he had been held back for promotion due to his race.

Mr Zulu and former colleague Hani Gue have taken the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to a tribunal alleging they suffered racial discrimination.

The MoD is contesting the claims.

Mr Zulu served with 3rd Battalion (3 Para), based at Merville Barracks in Colchester, the tribunal in central London heard.

He said he had been racially abused by a sergeant in 2014 after asking for early holiday to return to South Africa to visit family.

‘African animals’

Mr Zulu said there had been a series of events where he felt racially harassed and discriminated against throughout his time in the Army, which he joined in June 2008.

But the tribunal was told matters had escalated during a six-week exercise in Kenya in 2017.

A corporal had referred to Kenyan soldiers as “African animals” and racist slurs were used to describe heard the local population, the former paratrooper said.

During a platoon conversation Mr Zulu claimed a private said “Nelson Mandela is a terrorist” which was supported by a corporal.

He said: “Both the corporal and private knew that Nelson Mandela, who fought for the liberation of black people under the evil apartheid regime in South Africa, was a big part of my life and South Africa’s history.”

Mr Zulu said after he reported the abuse, people in his unit stopped talking to him and were “turning a blind eye to the racism”.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Former paratrooper Hani Gue told a tribunal he was subjected to racist abuse in the Army

He told the tribunal he left the Army in 2018 as he could no longer go on serving a “racist institution”.

Simon Tibbitts, for the MoD, said after an apology from the sergeant, Mr Zulu had accepted he was happy with the outcome but the former paratrooper said this was because he was of a junior rank and keen to progress his career.

The tribunal has already heard from Mr Gue, who claimed soldiers had decorated their barracks with Nazi flags and pictures of Adolf Hitler.

The MoD said the armed forces took such complaints seriously and at least one was referred to the Royal Military Police.

The tribunal continues.