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Firefighter sees red over race attack

Kwa-Zulu Natal

Cape Town - A firefighter from Pietermaritzburg, Evershan Pillay, has taken to social media to vent his shock and disgust over racial comments made against him by a woman on Facebook.

Pillay, stationed at the uMgungundlovu District Municipality fire department, said he was left stunned after messaging a woman on Facebook, only to receive several responses which included vulgar language and racial slurs.

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A screengrab of the racist remarks from the social media conversation which offended fireman Evershan Pillay. Picture: Facebook

The incident occurred in September last year, but resurfaced last week, when Pillay posted screengrabs of the conversation on social media, claiming he was still shocked and affected by the incident.

Pillay said he had done nothing to provoke the attack from the woman, but had introduced himself over private Facebook messenger after perusing her profile page.

“I use social media for business purposes, and I noted I have a lot of mutual friends with this person. I just scrolled through her profile and saw she had quite a colourful lifestyle and messaged her. What I got in response was shocking,” said Pillay.

The insults against Pillay by the woman include her calling him a “black skin” and a “stupid Indian”, as well as other derogatory names historically associated with being Indian. Pillay said he could not believe that racism still played a role in today’s society. “It is just wrong,” he said.

Attempts to get comment from the woman, Joan Elise Smith, proved futile.

On the back of several racist social media storms, which include the likes of Penny Sparrow, earlier this month Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke urged South Africans to stop giving too much attention to those who make racist remarks on social media.

He was addressing congregants at the Glen Methodist Church in Pretoria, where he explained the right to free speech and expression was vital in a democratic society, and without it, the nation would suffocate.

He said the law did not allow for incitement of imminent violence through statements such as “kill the farmer, kill the Boer”, or “all black people should be killed” and “white people should be thrown into the sea”.

“Racism is rooted in prejudice and greed. Its starting point is an unfounded generalisation. We lived in a divided society for years. It’s going to take time for us to break down the prejudices which were built over years,” he said.

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Cape Argus

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