“Racists are everywhere in South Africa”

A racial incident that occurred at the Cape Quarter in Cape Town turned violent this week, with the altercation caught on camera. The footage shows a seemingly drunk white man spewing racist insults, including the k-word, at a black man, who then knocks him unconscious with a kick to the head. Both men were later banned from the mall.

ZIMASA MATIWANA asked people how they would have reacted in a similar situation.

SiyondlaSiyondla Sithole, 25, student, Sherwood
It’s quite irritating that we still deal with racial incidents like these in this day. You would think people are more tolerant of each other. If someone bullies you to the point of what I saw in that video, I would assume that beating them up is your only way of standing up for yourself. I know how being a victim of such prejudice feels. If I was in that situation then I would have done what the guy in the video did – defend myself against danger by any means necessary. I don’t disapprove of what the black guy did.

NatashaNatasha Jacobs, 22, tutor, Morningside
For him maybe it felt like he was justified but personally I wouldn’t beat someone up because of the k-word, I suppose walking away would have been a better option. I have been a victim of racism. I’m pretty sure lots of people in South Africa have experienced racism – it’s hard not to have. Sometimes it comes across as a ‘joke’, subtly. I just laugh it off. Engaging racists is pointless anyway; you can’t reason with them. I would have excused myself from that situation.

OdwaOdwa Mntonintshi, 30’s, quality assurance officer, Umbilo
I don’t blame the black guy for hitting the white guy but I don’t condone violence. From what I saw the white guy won at the end because he provoked him to a point where he lost control of his emotions. Racists are everywhere in South Africa but you can’t go around beating people up; that will never erase being called a k—ir, it doesn’t solve anything. I have suffered from racism countless times, in the hands of the police and in my work, but I just laugh it off. In that situation I would have just walked away. Violence must only be administered where one is in grave danger, as a last resort. Verbal abuse can’t constitute a beating.

AndreaAndrea Alcock, 46, writing centre practitioner, Glenwood
I have never been a victim of racism but I would have been very angry in that situation. I can’t say how I would have reacted because I’m not black and I’m not a guy, I think [being male] is a huge factor. At the end the guys were both aggressive, they did not act like adults. There was an action and reaction but it doesn’t make the beating right, physical violence cant be justified, its just not worth it. I would probably think of reporting such to the police but I’m not sure if they would react. I would not try and sort it out myself.

PillayNikita Pillay, 19, student, Phoenix
Twenty years into democracy there are people still walking around calling others k—irs. That is disturbing. I understand that no one wants to be called derogatory terms but violence is never the answer, the black guy could have just been the bigger person and walked away. I think he was driven by anger but I have never been a victim of racism, I don’t know how it feels. I would have used two or three vulgar words to respond to the name calling but I wouldn’t bother myself beyond that. We never know how we will react in such situations, I do know though I would never entertain aggression and racism.

Zimasa Matiwane bio picZimasa Matiwane is a journalism student at the Durban University of Technology (DUT). She has written for the community newspaper Satyagraha and DUT journalism’s online newspaper Journalism Iziko.

– Vox pops have been edited for brevity and clarity.