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Durban - Westville businessman Jackie Schuit has finally apologised to his neighbours for throwing eggs at them after they let off fireworks to celebrate Diwali three years ago.
Schuit said on Thursday that in order to put the matter to rest and be neighbourly, he had agreed to sign the final settlement.
He said he was happy to go to court, but the matter could have dragged on for years, and this resolution was an easier option. He refused to pay the neighbours’ legal fees.
The spat that ensued after the November 2010 confrontation - Schuit also verbally abused the Chetty family - landed up in civil court, but has finally been laid to rest.
In the apology, which was read before the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court on Monday, Schuit apologised “unconditionally” for the abuse and agreed it would not happen again.
Schuit issued a statement on Wednesday saying that the Chettys had set off “bomb crackers” which exploded at the same height as his bedroom window, two floors up.
“They did not inform us that they would be celebrating Diwali with bomb crackers and other exploding fireworks,” he said.
“We would have taken the necessary precautions had they done so.”
Schuit said his family, friends, domestic worker and her child, as well as their three dogs, were severely distressed, and his pleas for them to stop were ignored.
“Eggs were thrown in the direction of the Chettys’ property in a further attempt to get their attention,” he said. “It was at that point that the Chettys and their guests approached our boundary wall and shouted, ‘We will come across the fence and f**k you up“.
Police arrived, but Schuit said he was not reprimanded for harming anyone.
A few weeks later he received a summons for payment of R200 000 for damages suffered.
Yavani Chetty, the family’s spokeswoman, said they had been living in the home for 23 years and had always celebrated Diwali before 2010 in such a fashion without a problem. She said they had had a good relationship with all the neighbours and were never rowdy.
Recalling the night of the incident, Chetty said: “My entire family was at my home and we prayed, after which we lit outside lamps.
We had two packets of about six rockets, which weren’t loud, and we went to a secluded spot away from the neighbouring houses. We also have animals which are well looked after and we also consider all our neighbours.”
Chetty said her son, Rinesh, heard a disturbance across the fence and saw that their housekeeper’s child had been hit by an egg.
“We all realised then that someone was throwing eggs at us,” she said.
“Rinesh went to the fence and asked why the eggs were being thrown. Mr Schuit replied, “You f**king people must get out of my neighbourhood and do your Diwali elsewhere.”
She said the police were called and confirmed that the Chettys were within their rights and instructed them to continue what they were doing, adding that they would deal with Schuit.
“We went to a lawyer because we didn’t want to let him (Schuit) make our lives miserable,” she said. “All we wanted was for him to acknowledge his actions and a simple apology.”
Three years later, the Chettys have their apology.
Schuit admitted he was guilty and apologised for throwing eggs, one of which hit a child, “and for shouting abusive and vile language at us”, she said.
Chetty said he had hopefully learnt his lesson to be respectful of all cultures in South Africa.