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Mon Apr 27 07:35:41 SAST 2015

Racists cannot be tolerated, no matter what their colour

The Times Editorial | 06 February, 2013 00:19

The Times Editorial: On March 27 1985, 42 pupils were killed when their bus plunged into the Westdene Dam in Johannesburg. The cause of the crash was never quite explained, but the memory of the young lives lost so tragically has remained.

So it is with abhorrence that we witness the abuse of this tragedy by a young black South African who placed the names of the children on his Facebook page as a rallying call to celebrate the end of whiteness.

Zama Khumalo, 24, has ripped into the Westdene tragedy with scant regard for the consequences.

This is callous exploitation of an awful event in order to promote a belief system that is racist.

Khumalo is not the only black South African to hold such views. On this we must be clear. As much as we have post-apartheid white racists, our society has arrogant black bigots too.

Khumalo, who grew up after apartheid ended, is one of them.

Our constitution - that most important founding document of this republic of ours - expressly forbids what Khumalo has done. He has made himself guilty of hate speech as defined in the Bill of Rights.

Khumalo might remove the Facebook post, squeal about receiving death threats in response to his very regrettable actions, but the damage is done and he must take responsibility for it.

Repulsive behaviour like this also serves to underscore the role and potential danger of social media.

How do we deal with the Khumalos of South Africa?

We must shine a light on those dark spaces of prejudice, making it uncomfortable for those who hold similar views, to make it clear that as a society we do not tolerate such attitudes.

Khumalo will have to deal with the consequences of his actions. It is more important, though, that the rest of us make it clear where we stand at moments like these.

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