We allow racists to buy their freedom

Johannesburg pastor Ron Rambebu who was attacked at a petrol station for allegedly wearing an EFF cap. (Ntwaagae Seleka, News24)
Johannesburg pastor Ron Rambebu who was attacked at a petrol station for allegedly wearing an EFF cap. (Ntwaagae Seleka, News24)

Just this week, a black man who was assaulted for no other reason except that he was black and wearing a red EFF cap, was allowed to be bought.

Well, Pastor Ron Rambedu joins the list of those who continue to derail the project to deal with racism in the country.

Let us start here. South Africa has a real racism problem. Those who deny it are clearly living in a bubble. Unprovoked whites have shown many times what they think of their fellow black South Africans, even when they are in faraway countries.

In videos from a filling station in Roodepoort, Rambedu is seen accosted by one Johan Bothma. The men, it appears, were unknown to each other prior to this interaction.

What is startling is that Bothma is seen running towards Rambedu’s car. He starts hitting the driver through the open window while hurling insults. The videos do not have sound, but Rambedu told police he was also being called the k-word.

A criminal case was opened and Bothma appeared in court. On Thursday, the two men walked into the Roodepoort court room as if they were the best of buddies. Bothma was wearing the very same EFF red cap which he assaulted Rambedu for wearing in the first place. He even promised to frame the cap.

All this, after the two men agreed on an alternative form of dispute resolution management, which is recognised in law.

Bothma paid R100 000 and issued a public apology to the man of God, who gracefully accepted the donation. He intends to use some of the money for a family holiday and give away the rest. And just like that, Bothma has bought his freedom for being racist – the same way that Angelo Agrizzi paid R200 000 for calling blacks the k-word and Adam Catzavelos paid R150 000 (over 30 months) for the same rants.

Rambedu was violated and attacked for who he is – a black man – by a white guy who sees himself as superior to a fellow citizen because of the complexion of his skin. Bothma’s actions show what he held dearly within himself – that he can do as pleases to black bodies and pay his way out of jail.

The amount paid was just a pittance to this privileged white, and the apology was just to save face. He will go back to his house and his behaviour will not change. He is who he is and did not deserve sympathy from Rambedu.

For South Africa to really rid the nation of racists, it is not enough of a deterrent for others when they see that paying money and issuing public apologies are enough to attone for racist behaviour. Jail time with no option of a fine could be a start to making racism unfashionable.

Follow me on Twitter @DumisaneLubisi


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