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Racism Condemned and Criminalized in South Africa

Updated on December 19, 2016
MartieCoetser profile image

Martie Coetser is a freelance writer from South Africa. She has a keen interest in a variety of topics.

Introduction: Racism

According to my dictionary 'racism' is:

  • The prejudice that members of one race are intrinsically superior to members of other races.
  • Discriminatory or abusive behavior towards members of another race.

Comprehension definitions of Racism are to be found all over on the Internet, as it is a social issue that restrains the emotional and physical freedom of millions of people.

In my hub, Another-Perspective-on-Racism, I described racism as a form of emotional fortification. Because racism is all about emotions - and especially fear - and because it is rather a primordial distrust in strangers, surely the advanced human race of today should not be emotionally incarcerated by racism. Thanks to advanced technology, like social media, television, aircraft, people of all races have strictly speaking become one nation, knowing each other and sharing in each other's prosperity and adversity. Yet, many people are not able to realize this. They keep on clinging to their own while hating the rest.

During the past year In South Africa racism and racists incidents were next to the unacceptable doings of politicians and criminals top news.

Racism examined closely

Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Jackson

Two white farmers from the Eastern Cape in South Africa were arrested after they forced a black man, Victor Mlotshwa, in a coffin while threatening to put a snake in the coffin and to set the coffin alight. Apparently they wanted Mlotshwa to accept his lot in a closed coffin without a word of protest. They also addressed Mlotshwa with the forbidden k-word.

In the video of the incident, which happened on August 17th, the victim’s frightful cries arouse overwhelming aversion to racists and bullies.

After being arrested for kidnapping and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Jackson explained in court that they were threatened by Mlotshwa, who had trespassed on their farm to steal copper cables. They wanted to teach Mlotshwa a lesson, they told the magistrate.

According to Mlotshwa, there is a pathway through the farm to the township where he lives. Many of the township’s residents use the pathway.

The magistrate rejected the farmers' application for bail. They will spend Christmas and New Year in jail, as their trial is scheduled for January 25th.


Vanessa Hartley

Vanessa Hartley, a security consultant in the beautiful Hout Bay near Cape Town, ranted on Facebook about the influx of Africans into Hout Bay's adjoining informal settlement, Imizamo Yethu. In her rant she allegedly referred to Africans from other African countries as “stupid animals” who should be tied to a rope, because they illegally tie up seals and feed them at the local harbor. (Being a mid-lander, I don't have a clue what people could gain by tying up seals and feeding them in a harbor. I believe somebody will soon enlightens me.)

The influx of too many people had turned the beautiful Hout Bay in just another crime-affected town in South Africa, complains the residents of Hout Bay. But being white and privileged, living in comfort in the affluent region of Hout Bay, Hartley finds the decline of her beloved town more upsetting than the poverty in Imizamo Yethu, whose black residents increased from 2,000 in 1993 to 18,000 in 2016.

Hartley’s racist attitude is that of many white avowed and closet racists in SA, who are not willing to sacrifice any of the privileges they have obtained as a result of Apartheid, and who want nothing to do with the Africans’ struggle against poverty and inequality.

“Vanessa Hartley’s post has negatively affected genuine attempts by residents in Hout Bay to work together to address the challenge they face as residents within the community,” said Hout Bay Civic Association secretary, Roscoe Jacobs, on Monday, December 5th to TMG Digital from the police station where he lodged a complaint of crimen injuria against Hartley. The ANC of the Western Cape also expressed their intention to open a criminal complaint on Monday.

Hartley issued an apology and an explanation - her phone was left lying around at a bar and someone else wrote the message and the response to the comments.

Dawie Kriel

“Same story every year. Despite the outcry about crackers every year and in spite of the ban on the imports, Zuma still gives the Gupta’s and company license to import that shit by the container load. Profit profit profit… To those idol worshippers and devil disciples who buy them in the name of religion, piss-off back to your dark hole in the backwoods of India you dickhead!! I could strangle you morons with my bare hands and derive great pleasure in watching your face turn blue and your tongue pop out….” Dawie Kriel raged on Facebook at the end of October during the Hindu festival of Diwali.

The DA as well as the ANC in KwaZula-Natal laid charges against Kriel. On November 28thKriel appeared in court and stated his intention to plead guilty. He was given a warning and asked to return to court on January 17, 2017.


Justin van Vuuren

The owner of a gym business in Durban, Justin Van Vuuren, lost a couple of his sponsors, among other Future Life, after he called black people ‘animals’ in a rant on Facebook about the condition of Durban beaches.


Penny Sparrow

In January 2016, retired realtor, Penny Sparrow lamented the condition of a Durban Beach that was overcrowded by black people on New Year’s Day. She posted a rant on Facebook, calling black people ‘monkeys’, and triggered a social media furore. Charges against her were brought by individual members of the ANC and also by her own party, the DA, who summarily suspended her membership.

After pleading guilty to a charge of crimen injuria, Penny was found guilty of hate speech and fined R5,000 by the Scottburgh Magistrate’s Court and R150,000 by the Equality Coart.

New Year's Day on Durban beach

Gareth Cliff

One of the judges on Idols SA, Gareth Cliff, was fired by his employer, M-Net, after he sympathized with Penny Sparrow on Twitter. His post, "People really don't understand free speech at all," was according to him hijacked by an angry twitter-mob. After an urgent application to the High Court in Johannesburg, he was reinstated as an Idols judge.

Dianne Kohler-Barnard

A Member of Parliament for the DA (opposition party), Dianne-Kohler-Barnard, was expelled from her party after sharing on her Facebook page a statement of someone else. "Please come back PW Botha [president during Apartheid] — you were far more honest than any of these [ANC] rogues‚ and you provided a far better service to the public."

Being a member of the DA, whites actually admit that Apartheid was a cruel, racist policy, and they undertake to do everything in their power to efface its tragic results. Obviously, sharing a statement such as the one Dianne has shared, should not be done by a member of the DA.

After appealing her expulsion, Dianne was reinstated in her position, but on conditions that actually made a mockery of her presence in Parliament.

Chris Hart

Standard Bank economist, Chris Hart, was compelled to resign after Standard Bank suspended him for tweeting on January 3, 2016 that black people had a sense of entitlement and hatred towards minorities (whites).


Velaphi Khumalo

Following Penny Sparrow’s post in January on Facebook, Velaphi Khumalo responded in an even more racist manner, threatening to clean South Africa of all white people. He was immediately suspended by his employer, The Gauteng Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation Department, who described his post on Facebook as "barbaric and racist utterances".

Velaphi was subjected to a disciplinary hearing, where he was charged for misconduct. After pleading guilty and committed himself to corrective measures, including counselling, he was given a final warning by the disciplinary panel and went back to work, tasked to promote sport in his province.

On top of this Velaphi had to face a case of crimen injuria, as 19 complaints were lodged against him. To date the public doesn't know what the ruling of the Equality Court was, as reporters have lost interest.

Matthew Theunissen
Matthew Theunissen | Source

Matthew Theunissen

In May 2016 the Minister of Sports, Fikile Mbalula, unexpectedly forbids national netball, cricket, athletics and rugby associations from bidding for, or hosting any sporting events due to their failure to ‘transform’ according to the country’s population, which is 79.2% Africans, 8.9% Whites, 8.9% Coloureds, 2.5% Indian/Asian, and 0.5% Other.

Matthew Theunissen, a 26-year-old man with a Master degree in Environmental Management, shocked the country by responding with a most offensive rant against SA's government.

His punishment included community service in a poor‚ disadvantaged area for three to six months, anger management therapy‚ anti-racism research, and he may not “publish or communicate any further discriminatory or hurtful language‚ and will refrain from engaging on any social network platform for 12-months while undergoing rehabilitation”.

“This process asks Theunissen to specifically explore‚ reflect and understand what hate speech and racism are‚ why hate speech is destructive to South Africa’s transformation process‚ and how white privilege functions in South African society‚” explained the South African Human Rights Commission.

Shayne Ramsay

In November, Cape Town DA councilor, Shayne Ransay, posted a rant on Facebook about homeless people (mostly blacks), living in the streets of Sea Point. She referred to them as “criminals‚ mentally retarded or social outcasts and those who are genuinely down on their luck”.

She urged people not to throw away ‘perfectly edible’ food, as the homeless people treat rubbish bins like buffet tables. Her intention was to change the bylaws of this posh suburb to make life more difficult for vagrants, and to organize a March against GRIME.

“At this particular point the matter is being investigated by the City, and we are not in the position to make any further comments,” said the Chairperson of the City of Cape Town’s Disciplinary Committee on November 29th. To date we have not heard another word of Shayne.

Vicki Momberg

Another realtor, Vicki Momberg, indulged in racist profanity while refusing the assistance of black police officers after she lost her handbag during a smash-and-grab incident. Without any provocation she expressed intense hatred and disdain for black South Africans, saying they are arrogant, useless and clueless.

Her rant was caught on video and went viral on social media, and when she looked again, she was charged with four counts of crimen injuria.

Momberg’s final appearance in court was scheduled for October 27, 2016. To date I have not heard or read a word about its outcomes – more proof that the media prioritize sensational news.

Andre Slade

In June 2016, the owner of a guest house in Sodwana Bay, Andre Slade, claimed that “God’s word says whites are superior to blacks. Pointing to the top of his partner’s head, he claimed that God had created whites with a "crown" on their heads. He justified his refusal to accommodate black people at his guest house and perpetuated the Apartheid ideology and its dehumanizing effect with several Bible scriptures.

He was compelled to close his guesthouse, not because the Africans in the region threatened to set it alight, but because it came to light that he had obtained the property under false pretenses, and he was operating without a license.

In August his Slovakian partner was arrested reportedly for contravening the Immigration Act, as her visa had expired. She refused bail.

To date the lot of Slade and his partner is unknown, as reporters have lost interest in them.

Mabel Jansen

Mabel Jansen, a High Court judge generalized in a Facebook conversation that "all black men are ra#ists and murderers". In a private message to Gillian Scutte – a white activist and self-confessed hater of whites - Mabel speculated that ra#e was part of black’s culture.

After the media’s outrage about a white waitress who was bullied by a black man, Gillian Scutte published her private conversation with Mabel in an effort to overlay the wrong that was done by the bully. She exposed Mabel as a racist judge who should be removed from the bench.

Mabel, who denied allegations that she was a racists, was granted special leave by the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, pending the finalization of a complaint against her that was lodged at the Judicial Service Commission by the Gauteng chairperson of Advocates for Transformation‚ Vuyani Ngalwana.

Mabel’s complaint, that she feared for her and her children’s lives since Scutte published their conversation fell on deaf ears. She was compelled to leave the country to await her lot in Europe. In September two gunman broke into her house and demanded court files. They left with items of jewelry after trashing files on her computer.

To date nothing more has been reported about Mabel’s lot.

Julius Malema

The leader of the EFF (2nd largest opposition party), Julius-Malema, seems to be the most outspoken racist in South Africa, although he claimed, in agreement with Andile Mngxitama and some other black leaders, that black people can not be racist.

According to expelled EFF Member of Parliament, and now leader of the ‘Black First Land First’ movement, Andile Mngxitama,

“…. racism describes a process of black people’s subjugation. If you don’t limit this definition then racism becomes everything and everyone can be a victim of racism and black people, as a result, are unable to make claims for reparations for slavery, for colonialism, for apartheid and continuing discrimination of black people…. If racism is everything, if you say white people can become victims of racism, what you have done right there, is to wipe off the historical slate clean of the specialiced, unique ways in which black people have been oppressed over the ages….”

45 cases of black-on-white racism

Then there are forty-five cases of black-on-white racism reported to the Human Rights Commission by the FW de Klerk Foundation on January 15, 2016. The little attention that was given to these complaints may indicate that the SAHRC is applying a policy of Double Standards.

Martie Coetser
Martie Coetser

Opinion of an owfma-sa

People may label me as a ‘snob’, and a ‘criminalist’, hating criminals, but never as a ‘racist’ nurturing the idea that I am part of superior race, or that I may enjoy any privileges because I am white, or that I have the right to be nasty and abusive towards members of other races.

While growing up during the time of Apartheid, indoctrinated with the idea that segregation is ‘God’s will’, I was also taught (and indoctrinated) to love my neighbor as much as I love myself. That Africans were my neighbor was an indisputable fact since I can remember in the house of my parents.

I remember my painful sympathy with poor black children, and my feelings of guilt because I had what they didn’t have – beautiful, undamaged clothes and shoes, a warm bed to sleep in, three meals a day, a grand school to attend, and a grand church, etc. I remember my confusion and inability to understand why God, who stands for love and forgiveness, could be so unfair, demanding segregation and Apartheid.

I remember the day in 1991, when I heard that the ruling organ of my church had admit that they were wrong to believe that segregation and Apartheid was God’s will. I remember my relief because black people were finally declared just as human as white people and my anger because I’d been misled by ministers, teachers, and my parents for thirty five years.

Because I have relatives and acquaintances that are racist, I know the mentality and personality-traits of white racists, and this is where my ‘snobbish nature’ kicks in – I don’t mingle with racists, and if they happen to be in my personal space for one reason or another, I openly disagree with any racist remarks they spew.

While I find white-on-black racism disgusting, unforgivable, and beneath my dignity, I find black-on-white racism manipulative, terrifying, and hate-infusing. By acknowledging all these emotions, I can understand racism and especially its triggers. Yet, I cannot change a racist into a lover of all races.

At present in South Africa racism can only be punished as Crimen injuria. However, a new bill to combat hate speech and hate crime is about to become law. The deadline to read and comment on this bill was December 1st , but it is still available on the Department of Justice’s website for the man on the street to become fully acquainted with it.

And this brings me to the million dollar question:

Will punishment change the mindset of a racist?

Personally I suspect that punishment will rather increase hate not only towards members of opposite races, but also towards members of one’s own race.

I believe punishment will only inspire people to keep their racist thoughts to themselves instead of upsetting or humiliating others with them.

Personally I believe that racists are dangerous beings aiming to create serious trouble, misery and conflict, and like murderers and other criminals, they need advanced psychological treatment, including hypnosis, in order to become normal, law-abiding and acceptable people.

By the way, an owfma-sa is an ordinary white middle-aged South African whose opinions are totally unable to effect change.

Let's enjoy one of my favorite songs -

Paul McCartney – We All Stand Together Lyrics

Win or lose, sink or swim
One thing is certain we'll never give in
Side by side, hand in hand
We all stand together

Play the game, fight the fight
But what's the point on a beautiful night?
Arm in arm, hand in hand
We all stand together

Keeping us warm in the night
La la la la
Walk in the night
You'll get it right

Win or lose, sink or swim
One thing is certain we'll never give in
Side by side, hand in hand
We all stand together

© 2016 Martie Coetser


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