Neighbour sues over racist Facebook Diwali comment
Regesh Govender was angered by Johan Olivier’s post after Govender lit fireworks last week for Diwali, the festival celebrated by Hindus around the world.
Olivier posted: “F**k this b*** s**t c**lie vaalie s***t if nspca dont sort this s***t out i will with some serios s**t” (sic).” Govender said it was time that people who felt they did not fit into the democratic South Africa left.
“My lawyer is filing papers at the Greytown Magistrate’s Court for hate speech, racism and crimen injuria charges. I want action taken against this man. I have barred him from my restaurant for making constant racist remarks. On Saturday, he came to my establishment claiming to want to apologise, but instead he threw tantrums,” said Govender yesterday.
“He told me that I should have lit fireworks at the back of my yard. Who does he think he is to try and control how I celebrate my religious festivity? What is more upsetting is him renaming Diwali to c**lie vaalie. That’s unacceptable,” Govender said.
When contacted for comment, Olivier said there was a typing error in his comment, and that the message was meant to show unhappiness about Diwali and the fireworks.
“What I meant to type was it was not cool on Diwali. I’m sorry for having used the “F-word. It’s just that those fireworks traumatise my pets and as an animal welfare activist, I get irritated when I see them getting traumatised. That was not a racist remark towards any religious or cultural group,” he said.
Olivier said he apologised the next day to Govender after realising his post had angered some people.
According to Olivier, he realised that it was not how he wanted it to sound when he read it the next day.
“It sounded racist and I removed it. I posted an apology to all who may have been hurt by what I posted. It is not true that I’m racist because I have friends, even Indian friends,” he said.
Reacting to the Facebook post, Ashwin Trikamjee, president of the SA Hindu Maha Sabha, said there were individuals still stuck in the past.
“This has been happening over the years and each case is taken to the SA Human Rights Commission. The number of such incidents has dropped significantly, and unfortunately these crimes are perpetrated by the white minority. More heavy sanctions should be handed down to perpetrators if we want to see an end to this kind of crime,” Trikamjee said.
DA provincial leader Zwakele Mncwango said they would file a charge of hate speech with the police and report the incident to the SA Human Rights Commission.
This is not the first time there has been racist remarks about Diwali.
In 2016, Durban men Will MacGibbon and Dawie Kriel landed in hot water over their racist posts.
MacGibbon, who was later suspended by his employer, had posted that Indians celebrating Diwali were “low-class rubbish with no morals”.
Kriel, who was sentenced to a R6000 fine or one year in prison, posted that he could strangle Indians celebrating Diwali with his bare hands and derive great pleasure in watching their faces turning blue and their tongues popping out.