‘Monkey’: Cele angry, but not racist

2010-12-11 00:00

THE office of police commissioner General Bheki Cele has denied that his referring to murder-accused Shrien Dewani as a “monkey” was a racist remark.

This was after Britain’s Daily Mail reported that the “South African honeymoon murder inquiry was embroiled in a race row on Thursday night after Cele branded Dewani a ‘monkey’ ”.

“General Cele, who is black, is understood to have used ‘monkey’ to denote bad behaviour rather than as a deliberate racial slur. But there were claims his words will fuel tensions between black South Africans and the country’s large Asian community, which plays a key role in the nation’s economy,” reported the Daily Mail.

Cele said on Wednesday: “A monkey came all the way from London to have his wife murdered here. Shrien thought we South Africans were stupid when he came all the way to kill his wife in our country. He lied to himself.”

His spokesperson, Major-General Nonkululeko Mbatha, said that the monkey reference was not at all a racist remark, but a phrase to illustrate the anger that the case has caused.

Groups monitoring freedom of speech and race relations said Cele’s statement was also not racist.

Lucy Holborn, a researcher from the SA Institute of Race Relations, said branding Cele’s comment racist is taking it a “little too far”, as racism has nothing to do with his statement.

Ayesha Kajee, executive director of the Freedom of Expression Institute, said the reference was derogatory but not racist.

Meanwhile, Cape Town Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said yesterday he was “shocked and stunned” by reports of the murder.

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