Durban beach on New Years day
Crowded beach fronts over the new years period have become a sensitive point for racism and irresponsible social media comments in South Africa over the past two years.
The comments of Penny Sparrow in a tweet last year read as the following:
These monkeys that are allowed to be released on New years Eve and New years day on to public beaches towns etc obviously have no education what so ever so to allow them to lose is inviting huge dirt and troubles and discomfort to others. I'm sorry to say i was amongst the revellers and all i saw were black on black skins what a shame. I do know some wonderful thoughtful black people. This lot of monkeys just don't want to even try. But think they can voice opinions about stature and get their way dear oh dear. from now i. Shall address the blacks of South Africa as monkeys as i see cute little wild monkeys do the same pick drop and litter
This rant attracted huge amounts of racial tensions and slander on social media, it eventually came to a close with Penny Sparrow losing her job at Jawitz Real Estate and having to pay a fine of R150 000 to Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation.
Almost a year to the day Limpopo man Philip Roodt ranted on facebook in a hugely racist post referring to black South Africans on the beach as cockroaches and ended off by saying ' I hope the f**kers drown one by one. The use of the word cockroaches was used during the Rwandan genocide by Hutus towards Tutsis who they were trying to exterminate, is Philip Roodt suggesting a white on black genocide by using this term or is he simply to ignorant to understand the context of such comments.
Ben Sansonof posted in a facebook comment ' Eh eh wena.....must have smelt like the inside of Zumas asshole'
In a defensive comment he said ' Mohammed Jameel Abdulla you're a f**king little idiot! Every person you tagged there is a friend of mine from school! I dated a black girl you f**kin ignorant fuckin idiot fuck! Stupid monkey '
The comments and racial tension caused by such posts have flamed the fire of racism and segregation still burning 23 years into democracy becoming completely counter productive to an integrated and progressive South Africa.
My response to such tensions was to go spend the 1st of January on Durban's North Beach one of the most crowded spaces and photograph what i saw. The sheer volume of people on the beach was overwhelming from a distance but an incredibly different story amongst the crowds, showing me that most of the irresponsible comments were made from observations at a distance and lined with fear of black South Africans in large numbers.
Those people Philip Roodt claimed he would like to see drown one by one were mostly children and families enjoying a day at the beach without the luxuries of spending multiple days on holiday and exploring the serenity of an uncrowded beach. Durban city handled the day with the upmost professionalism only allowing cars with permits to enter roads on the beach front and by having adequate life guards, security and emergency services available. Public drinking was not allowed and tents were erected every few hundred meters for children who had become separated from their families, children were given wrist bands where parents contact details were written.
As you could expect in any large crowds the day was full of excitement bizarre characters and the minority of trouble causes who were efficiently dealt with by police and security.