Opinion

Treat violent incidents between races equally

27 August 2017 - 00:00 By kallie kriel

On August 3 in Montana, Pretoria, an altercation occurred at the local KFC's drive-through. The passengers of three cars were involved: one a black couple, the Sonos; in the other two, five white men. What happened will be condemned by any sane person.
AfriForum also continuously condemns violence such as this without hesitation - regardless of the race of either victim or perpetrator. The fact that the victims were black and the perpetrators white meant that, within the rules of South Africa's public debate, it was automatically viewed as a racial incident. Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula, most of the media and black Twitter condemned the incident.
It became one of the most important news incidents and the main story on social media for many days afterwards.
Three days later a minibus taxi forced Carel Kruger, alone in his vehicle, off the road. Two of the taxi's passengers repeatedly hit Kruger with a brick. Two members of the metro police who witnessed the incident refused to help Kruger.His mortal sin was to hoot at the taxi and flash his headlights after the taxi had cut into traffic in front of him.
The fact that the victim was white and the attackers as well as the metro police officers were black meant that, in this instance, the rules of the South African debate dictated the incident not to have been of a racial nature. Neither Mbalula, nor the majority of the media, nor black Twitter said a word.
Only four days after the Kruger attack, Carine van Staden, an unarmed white woman, was shot in the chest by a black corporal of the South African National Defence Force - who remains anonymous - during another road-rage incident in the same area. Her lung collapsed and she had to spend eight days in hospital.
Days after the incident, the police still had not taken a statement from Van Staden and no arrest had been made. As opposed to the KFC incident, neither Mbalula, nor most of the media, nor black Twitter said a single word.Apart from these incidents, there are many more examples of double standards that apply to race. Then-unknown Penny Sparrow was fined - and rightly so - for her unacceptable statements, while the Gauteng public servant Velaphi Khumalo received a light rap on the knuckles after he had said that white people should be killed as Hitler had the Jews.
These double standards regarding racial incidents in South Africa only create further polarisation - to the detriment of all who believe, like AfriForum, that mutual recognition and respect should be promoted between communities. That every incident where white people misbehave is elevated to national news creates a false impression that white people are generally staunch racists.
On the other hand, the biased treatment of racial incidents creates a hardening of attitude among white people. The fed-up factor among white people - which flows from the fact that most of them are, although innocent, continuously in the dock - creates the conditions for further friction.
The time has come for the quiet majority from all population groups - who want to see a society comprised of people who show mutual respect - to make themselves heard against the double standards surrounding race.
Here is how we might achieve that society:
Black people can promote mutual respect by not allowing themselves to be taken in tow by black Twitter and people like Mbalula. They have every right to condemn the KFC incident, but it would be a major step if farm murders, and attacks like the one on Kruger, were condemned with the same zeal.White people should see to it that incidents like the one at KFC do not happen. These incidents harm all white people.
White people should condemn violence against black people but should also, with the same confidence, not remain quiet about the injustices that they suffer as a result of these prevailing double standards. AfriForum protested peacefully outside the court where Kruger's attackers were on trial to help expose double standards and ensure all violence was condemned with equal zeal.
Nipping double standards in the bud is in all our interest.
• Kriel is CEO of AfriForum

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