It is a shame that inequality has become sharper during our constitutional democracy than during apartheid.
High level clouds. Mild.
Estate agent Vicki Momberg (Felix Dlangamandla/Netwerk24)
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two-year jail sentence handed down to former estate agent Vicki Momberg for her
racist outburst towards a black policeman in 2016 is a historic and important
moment for South Africa.
is the first time (that I am aware of) that someone will be imprisoned for using
racist language in our country’s history.
will likely appeal the ruling and I’d be surprised if this case doesn’t go all
the way to the Constitutional Court. This is also an important moment for our
jurisprudence, that incorporates the principles of reconciliation and
refused to accept help from Constable David Mkhondo after she fell victim to a
smash-and-grab incident in Johannesburg. She used the k-word 48 times and told
Mkhondo and his colleagues that the "calibre of blacks" in
Johannesburg was low. In court she says she believes the k-word is not offensive
"unless they (black people) feel or believe they are what they are being
was found guilty on four counts of crimen injuria by the Randburg Magistrate’s
Court on Wednesday and sentenced to three years imprisonment, of which one year
Pravina Rugoonandan said everyone had a right to dignity that needed to be
respected and protected, and that Momberg had stripped the black police
officers who were ready to assist her of their dignity.
is a particularly important moment for white South Africans to reflect on Rugoonandan’s
you ask, "but what about Julius Malema?", pause for a moment and
is simply unacceptable for any white South African to still use racist slurs
like those uttered by Momberg in the year 2018. It was never acceptable, but if
you still think it’s okay to use racial slurs like the k-word (also when black
people are not present) 24 years after Nelson Mandela and the ANC extended a
hand of friendship to their former oppressors, you have serious introspection
to do – probably from your prison cell.
am firmly of the view that the majority of white South Africans are not racist
and have made serious shifts in their minds after Mandela relieved them of the
burden of apartheid. I see this in my own family and circles.
are entire new generations of white children and young people who live
comfortably alongside black South Africans, want to make a contribution here,
grapple with their inherited privilege and will never consider emigrating to
Australia, even if they give us visas for free.
it would be naïve to think there aren’t more Vicki Mombergs out there. Most, if
not all white South Africans, have been present when an uncle or cousin, or
friend, or colleague uttered something racist in a pub, around the braai or at
the water cooler. Sometimes it’s the k-word; other times it’s less obvious, but
just as painful.
is no longer okay to do that – you will go to prison. It is no longer okay to
stay silent if you hear that – you could be complicit in a crime.
have seen plenty of discussions recently about the action or inaction of white
people in the reconciliation project. Reconciliation, they say, is a two-way
street. It cannot only be up to black people to lend a hand of friendship.
course there are thousands of white people who have actively participated in
giving back, stepping back and changing their views over the past 24 years.
Professor Jonathan Jansen calls them the "moral underground", which I
will write about more soon.
is high time this "moral underground" steps up, speaks out and makes
life hard and uncomfortable for the Vicki Mombergs out there. Silence is no
longer an option.
alone was obviously not enough to end the scourge of racism. On Wednesday
morning, justice took over.
- Basson is editor of News24. Follow him on Twitter @adriaanbasson
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