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Fri Sep 30 20:38:53 SAST 2016

Ten-year-old joins protesters in march against racism

NIVASHNI NAIR | 12 January, 2016 07:03
I HATE RACISM: Gillian Webber, 10, joined yesterday's march against racism in Scottburgh.
Image by: THULI DLAMINI

Ten-year-old Gillian Webber stood on tiptoe to hold up her home-made "I hate racism" placard as high as she could at a protest in Scottburgh yesterday.

She had begged her mother to take her to the KwaZulu-Natal seaside town's main street to join the march, organised by the ANC Youth League.

The march was organised to condemn the racist social media rant made by one of its residents, Penny Sparrow.

"Gillian overheard my mother tell a friend about the post and was horrified. She learned about the protest from TV news and begged me to take her there. I didn't know what to expect but I knew I had to take her," her mother, Lisa Bagshaw, said.

She said her daughter felt "much better" after the protest.

"She said she will keep the T-shirt for the next march but I told her we must hope there won't ever be another incident like this that we would have to protest against," Bagshaw said.

About 300 league supporters, civil society and religious leaders protested against Sparrow's comments in which she called black people "monkeys".

Most shops on the main street were closed as hoax posts on Facebook and Twitter warned residents to stay away and shop owners to shut their businesses because 3000 protesters were expected to descend.

But the march, led by Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa and provincial ANC leaders, was peaceful.

"If you are black or if you are white and you have racist tendencies, we are going to come together to show we will not tolerate you," Mthethwa said.

Marchers then laid a criminal charge against Sparrow at the local police station.

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