A darker shade of pale can land you in trouble?–?here’s what people have to say

2014-01-05 14:00

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Brenda Maluleke (32) from Giyani, Limpopo, says it doesn’t make sense that as “black South Africans we have to be carrying around identity documents to prove that we are citizens of this country”.

Brenda Maluleke. Picture: Lucky Nxumalo/City Press

“It seems that, as black people, we have no rights to go where we please. I’m from Giyani, where the Mbowenis are from, so now I should be carrying identification?

“Just because I’m darker skinned doesn’t mean I’m a foreigner. I didn’t choose to be this dark and I certainly won’t take being discriminated against in my own country.

“This is not what Nelson Mandela fought for. The struggle was against the discrimination of people based on their colour and here we are being subjected to that today.

“In all honesty, these police officers just want a bribe from people. They stop people so they can get R50 for a cold drink,” she says.

Maurae Africa (36) from Cape Town, who now lives in Bezuidenhout Valley, a suburb in Joburg, says it’s not just black people who are profiled.

Maurae Africa. Picture: Lucky Nxumalo/City Press

“Officers have stopped my son and his friends numerous times simply because he is coloured and they suspect he’s either drunk or carrying drugs.” She says that once her son even had his money stolen during a search.

“The main thing is bribes. Being judged by your skin colour or your background is wrong and it’s disgusting. As citizens of this country, we can’t put up with this.

“Nelson Mandela did so much for this country and it is worrying to think where this country is going when such things happen on a daily basis in a democratic society like ours.”

Nthabiseng Montle from Oakdene, southern Joburg, was disappointed to hear about the near-arrest of Tumelo Mboweni.

Nthabiseng Montle. Picture: Lucky Nxumalo/City Press

“It’s sad being a black person in this country. At every juncture, you have to experience such things one way or another.

“We live in a democratic country and such behaviour by police officers or anyone else should not be tolerated.”

Montle says she cannot understand why citizens have to carry identification.

“I’m light-skinned. What would happen if my boyfriend was much darker than me? Would he be harassed for identification while I was deemed the right colour South African?

“Foreign white people will never be treated like this. This is racism of another kind, the police who do this are xenophobic and it is wrong.”

Walter Simons (73) from Eldorado Park in southern Gauteng says he is used to carrying his identity document. Because of his darker complexion, he was often harassed by apartheid police who believed he was a black African.

Walter Simons of Eldorado Park. Picture:Lucky Nxumalo/City Press

“I still feel it’s like we are living in that era because we’ve got to show who we are every time. But we can also appreciate that because we’ve got different people here in our country. You don’t know who is who.

“If they ask you to identify yourself, it’s fair.”

The businessman reckons South Africans should carry their identity documents around as they don’t look different to illegal migrants from neighbouring countries. “It’s unfortunate that black people end up being mistaken for foreigners.”

Lindiwe Buthelezi (24) says South Africans can be identified from others through their accents, but some foreigners can be identified by their skin colour.

Lindiwe Buthelezi. Picture: Lucky Nxumalo/City Press

“Like they said, Tito Mboweni’s son was darker, you can also identify people by their complexion.”

Dube, who is dark-skinned, says she has never been mistaken for a foreigner because of her looks.

“The police are right to stop and question anyone they suspect of being a foreigner, even though this is likely to affect darker South Africans.”

But, according to her, lighter skinned people should be subjected to the same treatment.

“I don’t carry my ID around as I believe that

it can be lost. Once that happens you might find yourself married to someone you don’t know.”

But she says if she was arrested she’d “take further [legal] steps against the police”.

Charl van den Berg (32) from Cresta, Joburg, believes that there is no distinct South African look.

Charl van den Berg. Picture: Lucky Nxumalo/City Press

“We are one of the most colourful nations in the world. Number one, we shouldn’t be judging people by their colour.

“Secondly, regarding people having to carry passports or IDs with them, why don’t we just go back to apartheid where we all had to carry IDs?” asks Van den Berg.

“We should honour Madiba’s legacy and this

is not the way to do it.”

“As a South African, I have earned the right to be who I am.”

The police’s official comment

SAPS spokesperson Colonel Noxolo Kweza told City Press that foreign nationals are also clients of the police “despite the colour of their skin.

This makes it difficult for them then to practice xenophobia”.

She dismissed claims of xenophobia in the police and claims that other races are not asked for papers.

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