Newsmaker – ‘I never expected to find racism in New Zealand’

2011-10-01 17:30

Vata Ngobeni, the Pretoria News rugby writer who was wrongly accused by New Zealand police of drug dealing, said that as a black man who grew up in South Africa, he is no stranger to racial discrimination. But the last place he expected to experience it was in New Zealand.

Ngobeni said he was treated like a criminal because of his skin colour after being detained by police for allegedly “peddling drugs” in The Shed bar early last Sunday morning.

This was in Taupo, where the Springboks spent the week preparing for their World Cup clash against Samoa.

“I didn’t see it as a racial incident at first but after thinking it over and talking to friends, I now believe it was,” he said.

“I even wonder if there was actually anyone in the bar dealing and whether I was only arrested because I am black. What were the officers’ motives for searching me? To them I was presumed guilty and I had to prove my innocence.”

Ngobeni said when he was a student he experienced many incidents of racism when attending rugby games in Pretoria and Joburg.

“In 2001, I was at Ellis Park when the Springboks played against France. We walked in as a group of black guys and someone said: ‘Wat soek julle k*****s hierso (what are you k*****s doing here)’,” he recalled.

While walking to Loftus Versfeld on a Saturday to cover a Bulls game as the senior rugby writer for Pretoria News, he was also asked what he was doing there.

“Die sokker is môre (the soccer is tomorrow),” he was told.

Ngobeni said New Zealand is a country that often takes the moral high ground on race issues, especially pertaining to South Africa.

“In South Africa we speak about race issues more often than any other country in the world. That is why it came as a shock because I never thought something like this could happen in New Zealand,” he said.

The Maori Chief, Sir Tumu Te Heuheu of the Tuharetoa tribe, visited Ngobeni at the Springbok hotel in Taupo this week to offer his apologies for what had happened.

“He told me that they are not that kind of people. They are very welcoming to everyone. He told me the history of their tribe and the fact that they own the land. He also touched on issues of their fight to reclaim their land,” Ngobeni said.

He said when you speak to the Maori people you find that they have many concerns.

“When you talk to white New Zealanders they will tell you that everything is hunky dory. But this incident has now got them talking again.”

Ngobeni said it’s been almost a week now and he has heard nothing from the police.

“They said that I fitted the profile of a drug dealer. I would like to know what that profile is. Was it a general profile or was it just the colour of my skin?”

Local police chief superintendent Glenn Dunbier rejected Ngobeni’s demand for an apology.

He told Television New Zealand: “I’m not about to apologise for our police staff acting in a lawful manner, totally within police policy and in a way that was incredibly understanding and empathetic.”



Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.