South African filmmaker thrown down the stairs by Airbnb host in Amsterdam

A South African was the victim of an alleged racially-motivated attack by her Airbnb host in Amsterdam on 8 July.

Filmmaker Sibahle ‘Steve’ Nkumbi was staying in an Airbnb, a short-term rental, in the Netherlands, with three colleagues. They were reporting on and attending an exhibition by her friend, photographer Zanele Muholi. “There was really no suspicion that things could end like this,” said Nkumbi in an interview on YouTube.

According to Nkumbi, she and her friends were an hour late checking out of the apartment they had rented from a Dutch couple. Nkumbi said that initially the wife came to their door and was clearly upset, but managed to talk to her politely. She told the group that their lateness was unacceptable and demanded they leave immediately. Nkumbi asked for a few minutes to finish packing and apologised profusely. The woman then returned with her husband, who began banging loudly on the door. “This guy was extremely emotional and I tried to ask him, ‘why are you being so emotional’.”

The man, Nkumbi said, became verbally abusive towards them, referring to them as ‘you people’, belittling them and telling them that, “you’re not the great artist that you think you are. You’re not the queen that you think you are.” He allegedly told them that they need to leave immediately, “this is not Africa”. On why she believes his behaviour was racist, she said, “the connection of those words, any person of colour that reads this and has witnessed racist attacks, you know it when it happens to you.” She believes that he was purposefully vague so that it would be difficult to prove that he had been racist, making legal repercussions unlikely.

Nkumbi disputes claims that she was fighting with the man. “I was trying to reason with him so that we can leave in peace.”

Nkumbi said when she noticed that asking him to calm down wasn’t working, she decided to keep quiet and move. “What I had in my head is that he will see that I’m leaving, and move out of the way.” When Nkumbi was close enough to the man, he grabbed her. “I knew that he was gonna throw me down there [the stairs],” she said. Nkumbi resisted, grabbing the wall in front of her, but she eventually lost her grip and fell down the stairs.

“Prior to this, he did the same thing to my fellow colleague that is already outside,” said Nkumbi. But her colleague was able to resist his actions. “[She] turned back to look at him and told him not to touch her and then she left.”

The last thing Nkumbi remembers is realising that he is going to throw her. “Flying down all the way to the stairs, I don’t remember how that happened.” She lost consciousness and woke up in hospital. Nkumbi sustained a concussion, has a “huge” bump on the back of her head, and multiple bruises. She also has bruises on both her arms from where her attacker had gripped her and a bruise under her eye.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this before in my life,” said Nkumbi. “I come from South Africa where racism is so fucked up and you would expect that from South Africa.” She is saddened, angry, and disappointed by her experience in Amsterdam. “I didn’t expect it at all,” she said.

The police have arrested Nkumbi’s attacker. According to Dutch media he is being detained on a charge of attempted manslaughter and the case is under investigation. However, Nkumbi is sceptical that justice will be served.

Airbnb has condemned the man’s behaviour, calling it “appalling and unconscionable”. Its director for diversity and belonging, David King, said in a statement that they had reached out to Nkumbi and her friends and will take the strongest actions they can against the “abhorrent conduct”, including banning the hosts for life from the platform. “Nobody should ever be treated like this and it will not be tolerated,” said King.

Featured image via YouTube

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49 Comments

  1. amazni says

    Nice to see we can drag racism into other countries.

    1. princess aruba says

      what this was terrible

  2. Salomsi says

    WHEN will south africans learn to be on time? If you are an hour late in leaving you really have no respect for others – they may have had a tight schedule and needed to clean the room and get it ready for the next guests. Gee thanks kids, fine way to persuade people we’re worth hiring..

    1. Ziyanda says

      Do you know the whole story to this? If you don’t I suggest you get your facts straight

    2. not racism says

      They were actually 2 hours late. Not 1 hour, or “a few minutes” late like she says in the interview.

      1. Steve says

        Bring evidence, people like talking about things they know nothing about.

      2. Charles Hayes says

        Still no one had the right to assault her.

      3. Jm says

        Oh so the abuse of a woman ( who was already LEAVING the premises as she was clearly in the stairwell departing) is justified?
        Just shut the fuck up.

    3. Steve says

      Really? all you care about is time when a human being nearly died? You guys defeat me.

      1. anon says

        Steve Says, get a grip. The time is an important element to this story. They agreed to be out by a certain time. They were approached 30 mins after they were supposed to be gone, when the woman came back with her husband they went in (as they had keys) and they were STILL there and their stuff didn’t appear to be packed. So, supposed to be out at 11, asked to leave at 11:30, still not gone by 1 and then get combative when they start grabbing your belongings to take out of THEIR house. He didn’t just start beating her up, she was being physical with him over touching her stuff and he started pushing her towards the exit. He had no intentions of pushing her down the stairs, it was the result of a mutually physical confrontation. She cat get on video and say what she wants, but she even lies about how long it took them to exit and took no responsibility for that. She was entitled and this situation turned ugly for her and even for the man who just wanted her out of his property. If you don’t leave somebody’s property when asked, you are a jerk.

        1. Uncommon sense says

          Yes but, you don’t put your hands on them and throw them down the stairs no matter what they’ve done. That’s basic human decency. Just call the cops or report it to airbnb

        2. cleare says

          They paid money to be there for a certain time….. Yes! But if there was a circumstance that caused them to be late in leaving i.e someone being sick, or oversleeping, whatever be the case: it does not warrant someone placing hands on another individual. What it probably would warrent is
          a. Speaking clearly to them, especially if there is a tight schedule.
          B. If that is ignored, calling the authorities!
          No one…. I repeat… No one has the right to put their hands on any other person unless their life is being threatened in some way or the other.
          He was clearly aggressive and should be charged at the fullest degree of penitence because he was the one clearly assaulting another person.

          1. Kelly Cole says

            To be honest, as a landlord of properties, you have no right to touch their property or them for that matter. He is clearly wrong. You can request more time to move out your belongings. If it wasn’t agreed upon, then call the police

        3. Dre says

          Hopefully the universe brings this back around to Anon and his Mother, sister, or daughter does something that seemingly upsets someone and they throw one of them down the stairs! Like he said if someone agrees to something and doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain, why call the police? Incase no one has figured it out Anon is the type of guy that will say a woman deserved to be raped cause the way she dressed provoked someone, or a man deserves to be shot by an officer cause the officer overstepped their authority and the individual stood up for their rights! #firstclassdumbass

        4. Amanda says

          Definitely a jerk!! Yes, I agree but he still had NO right to put his hands on her. I also hope he learned a good business practice–charge them for every 30 minutes they check out late. simple–that will make people leave on time.

        5. I kill cunts says

          You are probably a racist cave cunt yourself because clearly you still don’t get the point.

        6. Jes says

          if she was in the stair well she was going down the stairs. WHAT PURPOSE DOES THIS MAN HAVE TO PUT HIS HANDS ON ANOTHER HUMAN??!!!

      2. Elaine says

        Ignorance that’s why. That was so wrong putting his hands on anybody.

      3. Angela Jordan says

        Steve, you are so right, and others are so inhumane. NO ONE deserves this treatment. I can’t believe people are acting like lateness warrants that. So, if someone’s daughter or mother is late, then she she get thrown down a flight of steps. Barbaric and delusional thinking. I am soooo disturbed by this

    4. Lucy says

      how dare you insinuate that someone should be almost murdered for being an hour late out of an hotel??? you should be prosecuted for racist hate speech

      i am a white person and have been late out of hotels MANY times, nothing ever happened to me

    5. G Henderson says

      I agree about respecting time; however, he could have simply charged her a penalty fee.

      Never any need to lay hands on others, in fact, THAT could be hazardous to ones well being.

    6. Brian says

      So h

  3. have respect says

    Not really fair to say he was racist. If he was why would he accept her reservation in the first place? There’s no evidence of racism in the video either… The host’s husband is clearly a brute, and he handled it really badly. But why don’t we read about the host’s side of the story?
    Being late to check-out and not having even packed your bags yet is incredibly rude. The hosts are under a lot of pressure to get the apartment clean before the next guests arrive. They could lose ratings, which directly affects their livelihood. Still not an excuse for his behaviour, but it’s really arrogant and selfish of the guest to put them in that situation.

    1. Steve says

      Get your facts straight, who said he signed us in if he even mistook me for another person? Stop being judgemental and investigate if you want to comment.

      1. anon says

        Use your brain Steve. If they were racist, they wouldn’t have rented the space to them to begin with. This is a case of not taking responsibility for personal actions and then blaming racism (even when it defies logic) for what transpires.

        1. Megan says

          That’s not true. Plenty of racist people will still accept black people or the hated races money and services. Look at the NBA and NFL …

          1. Black Panther Activist says

            All MONEY is green! Racist FUCKTARDS dance around words to stay safe!

        2. Uncommon Sense says

          To be honest both parties had roles to play in this mess. They should have just been proper as guests and packed as well as checked out on time and he should have kept his hands to himself and dealt with the situation through Airbnb. Also “this is not Africa” and other racially connotations were highly unnecessary.

    2. Dre says

      Sorry Have Respect but for you to say you didn’t see anything racist about the interaction clearly shows you are not BLACK! “You are not the Queen you think you are”? “This is not Africa”? Or I could be wrong and you are simply the “House N**ga that ignored what the field n**ggas were going through

      1. Have Respect says

        @Dre I’ve watched the video, my dude.
        Where does he say those things? All I hear him saying is “out, out” “get out now!”.
        Does every interaction (good or bad) between whites and blacks have to be racial?

    3. bonita crawford jones says

      Totally accurate response. I run my Airbnb’s on a tight schedule. It is arrogant and disgusting what they did being so late in mid summer and peak booking time. She slipped and he should not have touched her. but he is NOT racist, he had them staying in his own home. They are embarrassing themselves by mikling the fact that he was racist. Yes he was rough but YES they were rude and in contravention of their contract. SO, BOTH WRONG!!!!

  4. Steve says

    Nolwandle Zondi, thank you for the article.

  5. Denise says

    What is wrong with ya’ll. Late or not, you can’t just toss people down a flight of stairs. Increase their over stay fee if you have to but dont harm them.

  6. Nikki says

    No excuse he should not have pushed her down the dam stairs. GTFOH

  7. Yancey says

    She was yelling “what it is,what it is” ? when she be going down them stairs to the flow ! “Say what ?..what it is” ? LMFAO !

  8. Chris says

    Africans are really good at playing the victim! These people had NO INTENTION in honouring their agreement with their host and thought they could/ would behave like in South Africa – that is until the host started packing their stuff for them! I bet this criminal from South Africa flung herself down the steps as part of her victimisation act! The world needs to learn that Africans are masters at BS!

    1. Lucy says

      Chris there is something wrong with your brain if you think it’s ok to attempt to murder someone for being late. you are sick. and for psychopathy there is no cure, apparently. it’s a pity you exist

      1. Muh feels says

        @Lucy Attempted murder? Looks like a physical altercation leading up to an accident. The host ran down after her shouting “Call and ambulance! Call and ambulance!”. Why not wait until you hear the full story before you accuse him of attempted murder (and racism). Stop being influenced by “muh feels” all the time. Be objective and question EVERYTHING.

    2. bonita crawford jones says

      agreed!

  9. Shante says

    Who gives a damn how freaking late they were. THAT IS NOT THE WAY YOU TREAT PEOPLE. Y’ALL ACT LIKE YOU’VE NEVER BEEN LATE. GIMME A DAMN BREAK. HOPE HE GETS CHARGED AND ROT IN JAIL. HE COULD OF KILLLED HER. This world, smh at what it has become.

  10. Gugu M says

    Firstly, I don’t believe this was an act of racism. I disagree with that observation entirely. He would not have allowed you to stay there if he was a racist. Secondly, It is also important to abide by the rules at all times. Europeans have zero tolerance for rule breakers. You should have checked out on time. Thirdly, this man’s reaction to this situation is absolutely unacceptable. No human being should retaliate with violence, pushing and shoving people. He should have exercised other options, like call the cops, charge extra by the hour or whatever due process that exists, therefore he must pay for his actions. Lastly, Sibahle, I’m really sorry for what you experienced and glad that you are ok and still have your life. I hope you are able to move past this and continue with your happy life…. Love and Light!

    1. dave says

      Well said.

    2. Alan says

      No.
      His prior actions of “accepting her money” doesn’t mean he isn’t racist or capable of racist actions.

      The fact is he did use racial slurs, demean Africans, say “you people” – those are all racist comments said in the heat of the moment proving who he really is. Anger never justifies labeing a person or using racial slurs.

      AirBNB has a policy for handling lateness that involves charging 2xs. A guest checking out late is still a guest and an opportunity to make money and maintain a good reputation. He ignored the policy, ignored a dozen responsible ways to resolve this, and chose to break the law. He gave her a concussion and that is very serious and dangerous injury. He easily could’ve killed her – there is no excuse for his actions.

      1. Dave says

        “No excuse for his actions”. Agree, like most of the other commenters.
        The issue is the accusation of racism…
        “The fact is he did use racial slurs, demean Africans, say you people” — Where in the video does this happen????

  11. Mgudlwa says

    Then in South Africa people are voting for the DA, the political home of Racists

    1. Elisa says

      I will vote for DA, it has nothing to to with this. We can’t be ruled by a racist Indian family calling us monkeys being allowed by ANC the Gupta’s.

  12. jc says

    I wonder if the guests were white, had been running late, and got chucked down the stairs, if these comments would be the same…

  13. Shauna Windvogel says

    Look if anything I’d ask them to leave asap, if they still took their time I’d tell them I’ll be adding additional charges for being late. I’d then let them take their time leaving and just charge them for breach of the contract – not being out in time and for loss of income if they caused loss of income for the next group of people coming in. If the situation escalated any further I’d would have called the cops! There is no reason at all to get physical.

  14. jim bob says

    anon – what a cunt you are. so what they rented the property to them, money is money they wont care where it comes from. that does not man he cannot be racist. NO ONE should put hands on another! especially a woman.

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