Facebook racist lashed

29 August 2011 - 02:32
The boy is fine
The boy is fine

The white man pictured holding a rifle over the apparently lifeless body of a black child told police in 2007 that he paid the child to pose.

Police questioned the man from Knysna in 2007 when the picture first surfaced.

Hawks spokesman Colonel McIntosh Polela said yesterday that Western Cape police contacted him yesterday morning after reading a Sunday Times report which stated that the photograph featured on the profile of a Facebook user who called himself "Eugene Terrorblanche".

"I was told that the photograph came to light in 2007 and that it was investigated. The man was taken in for questioning.

"He told police that the child was alive and that he paid the child to pose."

Polela was unable to confirm the status of the 2007 investigation.

"The police report is expected to be sent to me on Monday morning," he said.

He added that an investigation will have to determine why the photograph resurfaced four years later.

"That picture speaks volumes and is a big worry. We have to understand what happened in the previous investigation."

Polela did not know if the child were alive.

"I got the impression that the man told the police that the child was alive. I don't know how far the police went to find out if the child was indeed alive. I will have to read the report," he said.

The police yesterday emphasised that the photograph should not raise "racial connotations" but instead should focus on the murder of a child.

"Whether the child was white or black, the photograph is still a big concern because it depicts the murder of a child," said Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa's spokesman, Zweli Mnisi.

Yesterday, Talk Radio 702 reporter Mandy Wiener said the radio station's news team exposed the picture after it appeared on a Facebook page called "Ek laaik nie 'n houtkop nie so what" (I don't like a fool, so what).

Ray Hartley, editor of the Sunday Times (sister publication of The Times) said: "If this is the same picture that was reported on earlier as being doctored, it is comforting to know that the child was not physically harmed. The fact remains that a very sick individual has this picture posted on his Facebook profile in 2011 along with a string of extremely racist remarks.

"The police are investigating this Facebook racist, who has concealed his identity, for very good reason and we believe the public should assist [them]."

The national director of public prosecutions, Menzi Simelane, tweeted: "Race crime legislation is needed in SA" and DA leader Helen Zille said she was horrified by the picture.

"Whether or not the picture is genuine, it represents a scene of extreme violence perpetrated against a child by a man. The intention is to evoke racial hatred and polarisation," she said.

By yesterday afternoon, 25 Facebook users had removed themselves from Terrorblanche's contact list after authorities suggested that anyone who viewed the picture and failed to report it could face prosecution.

Two Facebook groups, one calling for the arrest of Terrorblanche's friends and another protesting against him, grew quickly to more than 300 supporters yesterday.

White Facebook users expressed fear that the picture would give rise to violence against them, whereas black users said they were shocked that the profile had not been deleted.