It’s 2016 and racists must be schooled

South Africans have had enough – they’re calling out racists where they see them, most often on social media. And racists would do well to check their privacy settings – or, you know – not be racist. AAISHA DADI PATEL explains.

The Big Days are gone, Dezemba has faded into Januworry but damn, Black Twitter’s got no holiday hangover. And the country is all the better for it. Racists all over the country will feel less complacent after the schooling dished out to the likes of Penny Sparrow, Chris Hart and others.

This is how it began.

On Sunday evening, South African actor Hlomla Dandala highlighted a Facebook post by KZN estate agent Penny Sparrow in which she decried the use of public beaches by black people and also, referred to black people as “monkeys”.

Outrage at Sparrow’s comments poured in, and the hashtag #PennySparrow trended for hours.

At the same time, chief Standard Bank strategist Chris Hart tweeted that calls for return of land is the result of a sense of “entitlement”, and referred to such a call as a “poisonous ideology”. Hart also bemoaned the way that ‘minorities’ (i.e. white people) are treated – and questioned the existence of white privilege…

…which was ironic, as tweeps pointed out as they questioned how Hart got to the position that he did without (it would appear) having the relevant qualifications.

But tweeps had had enough, and were unapologetic in calling out the racism that they were seeing.

Tired of a system that has long oppressed them, Twitter demonstrated no chill and even made Sparrow’s personal details public.

Another tweep even paid the Sparrow family a visit.

Sparrow’s daughter Charmaine Cowrie told News24 that she had spoken to her mother, who said that “she didn’t mean anything [by the Facebook post] and she doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about. It’s just litter, paper on the ground.”

Sparrow later defended her comments herself, telling News24 “I wasn’t being nasty or rude or horrible, but it’s just that they [black people] make a mess. It is just how they are.”

The BBC, reporting on the furore, angered many with the way that they framed the story in a tweet that was later deleted.


It didn’t, however, end there.

Standard Bank, in the meanwhile, said they condemned Hart’s comments.

And on Monday afternoon, it was announced that the bank had suspended him.

Sparrow, a Democratic Alliance member, had charges pressed against her  by the party and steps taken to suspend her membership. The party also issued a statement condemning her comments.

But some were wary of the party demonstrating double standards.

And wondered whether Hart – also a DA member – would be condemned similarly.


And in the meanwhile, some worried about the precedent Hart’s suspension set. Was it fair to suspend someone for expressing views that are the official positions of more conservative parties anyway?



Let’s be real, Standard Bank hasn’t suspended Hart because they are fighting racism. They are responding to the outrage on social media, and strategically distancing their brand from the crude racism of one of their most publicly visible employees. Because, seriously, Hart’s utterances clearly had racist undertones.

We can take comfort in the knowledge that South Africa, under the astute leadership of the woke, will be a hostile place for racists. And that can only lead to a better place.



Editor’s note: We’ve removed a tweet that contained the personal details of Penny Sparrow as a reader pointed out, Sparrow has already received death and rape threats.