South Africa: Race row continues to grow

Cape Town, South Africa (PANA) – A race row sparked by comments posted on social media sites by two white South Africans continues to escalate with the ruling African National Congress stating that it will push for legislation to criminalise any act that perpetuates racism or promotes apartheid.

This is after Durban estate agent Penny Sparrow referred to black South Africans as “monkeys” in a Facebook message.

She was complaining about the litter on Durban’s beaches over the New Year weekend. Shortly afterwards, respected Johannesburg economist Chris Hart fuelled the flames when he rushed to Sparrow’s defence and tweeted: "More than 25 years after Apartheid ended, the victims are increasing along with a sense of entitlement and hatred towards minorities…"

The ruling African National Congress said: “We can no longer as a nation tolerate such dehumanising violations, where the black majority are treated as subhumans and are referred to as monkeys, baboons and other derogatory racist epithets in the land of their birth.”

In response to the incident which has sent shock waves around South Africa, a black Facebook user has also found himself in trouble for calling for the country to be cleansed of whites. Velaphi Khumalo now faces criminal charges after posting the following message: “I want to cleanse this country of all white people. We must act as Hitler did to the Jews.”

The human rights group AfriForum said all racism should be condemned‚ but claimed that racism against whites was not greeted with the same level of outrage as when whites made racist comments.

In a statement, it said that racism against whites did not come under scrutiny by the Human Rights Commission (HRC) or the police as was the case when whites made racist remarks against blacks.

“All forms of racism must be condemned equally and with the same amount of disapproval‚” said Ernst Roets‚ deputy CEO at AfriForum. “However‚ South Africa blatantly maintains double standards when it comes to issues like racism and incitement.”

In another significant development, the ANC has laid a formal complaint with the HRC to investigate the official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), which it alleges is a “breeding ground” for racists. However, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said racism is not confined to the DA because “South Africa is a nation born out of deep racism and there are racists in every party”.

Meanwhile, Sparrow who has received death threats over her Facebook post has apologised, saying “I made the mistake of comparing black people with monkeys. Monkeys are cute and they’re naughty, but they (black people) don’t see it that way". She added that she was born in East Africa “and raised by blacks” so she had nothing against them.

In another development, Standard Bank said it has suspended Hart pending an inquiry into the controversy.
-0- PANA CU/MA 6Jan2016

06 january 2016 09:00:37




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