Neighbours’ tiff has teeth and legs

By Time of article published Jul 12, 2011

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Regina Graham

A Somerset West doctor, who had a row with neighbours six years ago over slaughtering sheep in his garage as part of Xhosa custom, is in conflict with neighbours again and alleges racist motives behind the fracas.

The doctor says he went to report the incident to police who refused to open a case. Now he has gone to the provincial police commissioner, and the Independent Complaints Directorate is involved.

The doctor, Manduleli Bikitsha, was a target of harassment in 2003 for painting his two-storey home, in an upmarket suburb, bright pink to the ire of neighbours who said it was unsightly. He said the colour was requested by his ancestors.

Subsequently the words “Pink Panther” and “Pink stinks” were spraypainted on his pink boundary wall twice.

Now, the father of five claims his white neighbour, Juan Venter, is a racist. Bikitsha’s 19-year old son overtook Venter while driving and the doctor alleges Venter harassed, assaulted and racially abused his son after the incident.

“He pulled my son out of the car, racially insulting and physically assaulting him because of a simple overtaking and Venter can not be overtaken by a black man,” Bikitsha said.

However, Venter denied this, accusing the youth of driving erratically and overtaking him illegally.

Bikitsha went to the Somerset West police station to open a case against Venter, but he claims the police would not help him because he is an African living in a predominately white neighbourhood.

He sent complaints about his alleged treatment at the Somerset West police station to the provincial police commissioner and the Independent Complaints Directorate and is waiting for a response.

“I am hoping that the commissioner is going to take this seriously and handle my situation,” Bikitsha said.

Venter refutes the doctor’s claims. “He thinks everyone is a racist in this town, which is just ridiculous,” Venter said.

“Racism has nothing to do with this and Bikitsha is tiring the police with his cry of wolf,” he added.

Venter says that Bikitsha’s son was driving erratically on the road and that the youth illegally passed him while turning in the single lane into the area.

The doctor was out of town when Venter went to his home to speak to him about his son’s behaviour.

Bikitsha’s children kept yelling at Venter and threatened to let the dogs out to bite him, Venter said.

“The next thing I knew, they were opening the gate and the pitbull sunk its teeth into my right arm and the boxer latched onto my love-handle,” said Venter.

He called the Somerset West police about the dog attack and they came to take his statement. He is still waiting to hear more from them.

“I had on a new leather jacket that I had been given that day for Father’s Day and it’s trashed because of those dogs and I am going to take Bikitsha to small claims court over my jacket,” Venter said.

Since the incident, tensions have been high between the two neighbours and they refuse to speak to each other.

“Next time I will use my own means if the police don’t protect me or my family from those people,” Bikitsha said.

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