Penny Sparrow will probably die in hiding‚ says daughter

07 August 2017 - 07:37 By Jeff Wicks
Penny Sparrow.
Penny Sparrow.
Image: Gallo Images

With failing eyesight and deteriorating health‚ racist realtor Penny Sparrow will likely die in hiding.

“She is in the twilight of her life and she can’t come home because we think someone will take her out. I can’t afford to put her in a home. What am I going to do when she goes blind?” her daughter Charmaine Cowey said in an exclusive interview.

Cowey‚ who has become her mother’s de facto legal representative in her courtroom woes‚ said Sparrow was exiled and “on the run” in Johannesburg.

“Every day she puts on her disguise. She is religious about it. She wears a wig and very baggy clothes so she can walk around in public. In Johannesburg she doesn’t get recognised. To be honest she rarely leaves home. When she is here‚ she sticks out‚” Cowey said.

It was in the coastal hamlet of Scottburgh in the wake of New Year’s Eve revelry in 2016 that Sparrow became the face of racial tensions in South Africa. In a virulent Facebook post‚ she likened black beach goers to monkeys.

The rant set in motion a viral backlash‚ which has seen her hauled to court by the ANC for hate speech as well as criminal charges. The Equality Court last year slapped the 70-year-old grandmother with a R150 000 fine‚ which she had to pay after two months.

But after the ANC established she was ostensibly homeless and surviving on a R1‚400 per month government pension‚ it applied to the court to allow her to pay the fine over two years.

“She can’t pay the money‚ even with the extension. She has nothing‚” said Charmaine.

Sparrow pleaded guilty to charges of crimen injuria‚ paying a R5‚000 penalty to avoid a jail term.

“People will stop me in the street because I am Penny Sparrow’s daughter‚ it still happens. They tell me what my mother did was disgusting. She has become Scottburgh’s most infamous citizen‚” Cowey said.

Her daughter‚ who runs a nursery and garden service business‚ said that her mother had been punished to an extent that is hard to understand.

“She has accepted her guilt and accepted responsibility for what she has done and she’s been punished by the population. My family has fallen apart completely. It so painful because it was a terrible thing she did‚ but she’s my mother‚” she said.

She said the family had been collateral damage to the race row.

“I need to show the damage that has been done and how the family have paid for it. No one wants to be associated with the racist. I am in the middle between my family and my mother.

“How I have stayed in business I have no idea. No one wants the ‘the racist’ doing their gardens. I didn’t say what she said but I am now associated with her. They see us as the racist family‚” she said.