Convener of march against Phoenix killings retracts ‘racist’ statements

30 July 2021 - 13:21
By Nivashni Nair and Yasantha Naidoo
A video on social media shows the convener of the march, Jackie Shandu, shouting, 'One settler, one bullet. One Indian, one bullet,' to the group, who repeat the remarks.
Image: Supplied A video on social media shows the convener of the march, Jackie Shandu, shouting, 'One settler, one bullet. One Indian, one bullet,' to the group, who repeat the remarks.

Jackie Shandu, the convener of a coalition of civic groups under the banner #JusticeForPhoenixMassacreVictims that marched to Durban City Hall on Thursday, has retracted his “racist” remarks.

A video circulating on social media shows Shandu, shouting, “One settler, one bullet. One Indian, one bullet,” to the gathering, who repeat the remarks.

The comments were unanimously slated by groups including the eThekwini municipality, KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala, the SA Hindu Maha Sabha, African Democratic Change, ActionSA and the DA.

On Friday, Shandu posted a retraction on Twitter. 

“Yesterday we led a march to the municipality to submit a memorandum in response and reaction to the massacre in Phoenix but also in Chatsworth, Verulam, Sydenham and Isipingo.

“During our march, I made some problematic remarks, which with the benefit of hindsight,  should not have been said.

“I said, 'One settler, one bullet. One Indian, one bullet.' I want to withdraw those remarks because I don’t condone violence and I see the potential they have to sort of inflame already existing racial tensions.

“I want it to be on record that I am saying that having reflected, having sobered up, of course one was deeply enraged at that moment, one was feeling the hurt and the pain and the trauma, certain things came up. We are anti-racist in our outlook and don’t condone racism in any way and therefore retract the remarks.”

Speaking to TimesLIVE, Shandu said the retraction was not made in response to criminal charges or complaints. 

“I am aware of ActionSA statement about charges and the DA intending to lay a complaint with the police but the retraction was made before this. This was about responsible leadership aimed at a workable solution. This was about saying I erred and let us move forward.”

On Friday the city denounced “racist remarks” made at the City Hall by a group protesting against the recent killings in Phoenix.

“One of the many racial utterances made by the disgruntled group are related to the recent killings in Phoenix. eThekwini subscribes to the provisions of the Freedom Charter, which stipulates, among other things, that 'SA belongs to all who live in it’.

“The city understands frustrations that are a result of the recent unrest. It acknowledges these unfortunate incidents have to a certain extent reversed the gains of social cohesion programmes carried out by the city with other spheres of government,” said municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela.

Zikalala said while he acknowledged and respected people’s constitutional rights to peaceful demonstration, this should be exercised within the ambits of the law.

“The constitution guarantees that everyone has the right, peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions. However, exercising the right to protest must not infringe upon the fundamental rights of other people. Therefore we strongly condemn any form of hate speech that intends to degrade, intimidate or incite violence against anyone based on race, ethnicity, national origin or religion.

“Irresponsible statements and polarising behaviour will push citizens further apart and erode the positive gains made by our democratic government in building peace and unity,” said Zikalala.

He said people should unite and work with the government by supporting initiatives aimed at promoting peace and unity spearheaded by the deputy chairperson of the Moral Regeneration and Social Cohesion Council, Bishop Rubin Phillip, and members of the council, including former premier Willies Mchunu. 

He also urged social media users to stop sharing “inciteful and racist clips”.

African Democratic Change leader Visvin Reddy confirmed he laid a charge and was awaiting a case number. 

The DA said leaders met with senior police management over Shandu’s statement.

“We have also handed over a dossier of information at the Durban Central police station to assist and build on the case the police are investigating. We have been briefed by police that this case has been handed over to specialised police officers to receive priority attention.”

Shandu earlier told TimesLIVE the comments needed to be “interpreted within the context of the pain, trauma and anger”.

“I know there were some statements one would say are not necessary or helpful in terms of healing. These are very deep wounds. We will deal with that as and when the time is right. SA needs to understand and acknowledge the hurt and pain we are feeling. We have not killed anybody.

“A huge priority should be in terms of real solidarity with people who were massacred. People are more interested in the wrong remarks when the priority should be with the massacre. We can deal with what was said in a moment of heated anger and pain.

“Certain remarks were uncalled for. We are happy to deal with that, but we are saying let’s deal with it but not in isolation. We must deal with it in context.”