Wits concerned about recent racial incidents

2014-11-14 12:35


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Johannesburg - The Wits Centre for Diversity Studies on Friday expressed concern at the number of racial incidents across South Africa over the past few months.

"South Africa has not entered a post-racial, colour-blind era," centre director Professor Melissa Steyn said in a statement.

"These incidents make it clear that transformation is not a linear process, and that we should not assume that the passage of time since the 1994 transition necessarily translates into a steady, concomitant erosion of racism and racially abusive behaviour."

She highlighted some of the incidents including the so-called "blackface" saga where two white University of Pretoria (UP) students dressed up like domestic workers and smeared black paint on their faces in August. UP launched an investigation into the incident but the outcome was not yet known.

Another incident outlined by the centre made headlines on Thursday.

Two white Netcare 911 paramedics attending a road-rage incident in Johannesburg are accused of not attending to the black injured man, who was bleeding from axe wounds, and instead only attending to the white attacker.

After video footage of the scene emerged, Netcare 911 suspended the two paramedics not for the allegation, but instead for leaving the accident scene prematurely.

This month, another incident that made headlines was a white Cape Town dentist who allegedly beat a black gardener with a sjambok. The assault case in court is pending.

In Limpopo, an animal clinic and an office park came under fire after allegations of toilet segregation emerged. The SA Human Rights Commission is investigating both matters.

"While South Africans are shocked by such acts of thoughtlessness, hostility, and violence, we cannot afford to dismiss their significance simply as that there is a handful of 'bad apples' out there," said Steyn.

"It is clear that it is time to seriously take stock... We need to develop a vocabulary to unpack differences, and become more cognisant of what may be required of us to build a society in which all people feel valued, respected, and safe."

Read more on:    wits  |  racism

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