Warning: This column contains strong language
After seeing the headlines on Huffington Post yesterday about Spur caving under white pressure I admit I wasn’t keen to read the story. I was so proud of the way they handled the aftermath of that awful racial incident that the news of them not sticking to their guns greatly disappointed me.
But far, far greater than my disappointment in Spur, is my anger and disgust at the people who organised the boycott in the first place. And over and above that, my bafflement and shame at its success.
Dirk Hermann, chief executive of Solidariteit, the union for Afrikaners, wrote an open letter to Spur’s CEO, Mark Farrelly, explaining how he had “lost his taste for Spur” because of the "politically correct" way Spur handled the situation. He talks about the anger in the hearts of whites and how whites are being bullied by everyone, including Spur.
If you are as confused by this statement as I was, let me clarify: he is talking about the fact that the white man in the incident was banned from Spur restaurants while the woman in the incident was apologised to.
As a white Afrikaner, I have sympathy for the fact that it's not pleasant to always be branded the bad guys. But people, this will only change if we actually stop being the bad guys.
I would like to recap, in bullets, what we know from CCTV footage, cellphone camera footage and eyewitness accounts about what happened that day in the Spur at The Glen:
- Two small children fight in the play area - as is often the case when small children are involved.
- The father of one of the children then comes over to the other child’s mother, shouting at her and grabbing her little girl by the arm, yanking her away from her mother.
- The mother pulls her child from the man’s grip.
- The adults yell and swear at each other, the man leaning over the woman’s table while she remains seated, shaking his fist in her face for over a minute.
- The woman then tells the man to fuck off and stop bullying her
- The man then lunges over to her with his hand raised, yelling that he is going to give her a “poesklap” (loosely idiomatically translated to something between a cuntslap and a bitchslap).
- The woman loses her cool completely and the screaming continues until the man comes back and tries to overturn the table, at which at least three small children are still seated. Thankfully, it is bolted to the floor and only moves about a foot or so – enough to frighten, but not to seriously harm.
So what did Spur do? They did what any decent, reasonable business/person/organisation would do - they banned the man from their restaurants and offered trauma counselling to the woman and her kids.
And then people boycotted them for it. In fact, the boycott was so effective that according to the Daily Maverick, some franchises in places like Rietfontein, Welkom, Lichtenburg, Kroonstad, Upington and Secunda lost up to 45% in turnover.
It was an attack from a large man on a small woman and a young child. Race should have nothing to do with it. If this situation had occurred between a white man and a white woman or a black man and a black woman, few people would have (publicly) picked the man’s side. Threatening a woman and a child is not on.
Everyone knows that violence against women in South Africa has reached pandemic proportions. The United Nations Human Rights Council's Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Dubravka Simonovic said that she found the acceptance and normalisation of violence against women and children in South Africa astounding. SABC News reports that she stated "the violence inherited from the Apartheid era still resonates profoundly".
So I wonder what CEO of AfriForum, Kallie Kriel, and Solidariteit’s Dirk Hermann would have done if some huge stranger lifted their hand to one of their wives and threatened them with a “poesklap”? I am pretty sure they would not have heralded him as the victim in the story.
And so everyone who keeps on making excuses for the man, to everyone who keeps saying the man and the woman were “equally guilty”, I am calling bullshit. Their behaviour was not “equally bad”.
It’s NOT OKAY for a large, grown man to grab a little girl by the arm like she’s a ragdoll.
It’s NOT OKAY for a large, grown man to raise his hand to a woman. No, not even if she tells you to fuck off.
It’s NOT OKAY for a man to threaten a woman with verbal and physical violence.
It’s NOT OKAY for a man to use the crudest name for the female genitalia and mix that into a threat of punishment.
It would never have been pardoned in a situation where both parties were white, or both parties were black or the man was black and the woman was white. Which is why I find the excuses appalling.
“She was provoking him.” “She shouldn’t have sworn at him.” “She was asking for it.” “She shouldn’t have told him to fuck off.”
What do people expect a black woman to say to a large white man who manhandles her child and threatens her with violence?
Would “I am sorry, baas” have diffused the situation?
If you watch the video closely, you will see the moment it really escalates. It’s when the small black nurse finally had enough of the large white man looming over her and her children and shouting in their faces and she tells him to fuck off.
The man barely stops himself from hitting her, and for the countless viewers on social media, the woman immediately goes from victim to aggressor who has earned whatever comes her way. Because a woman shouldn’t talk like that. And a black woman shouldn’t talk like that to a white man.
So, to all the people and all the organisations who supported this boycott? I see your true colours.
You have shown me that Afriforum and Solidariteit are organisations that will protect white over black even when white is clearly in the wrong. You have shown me that there are far too many right-wing white, Afrikaner men who still have no respect for women. You have shown me that there are far too many right-wing white Afrikaner women who still have no respect for black women. You have shown me that the white, Afrikaner platteland is still stuck in the ‘80s.
But mostly you have shown me that neither trade unions nor big business nor your run-of-the-mill social media user or “innocent” bystander is willing to stand by female victims against male aggression.
Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on W24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of W24.