A South African artist has described how she was assaulted by an Airbnb landlord in Amsterdam for checking out late.
The 47-year-old man has been charged with attempted murder. Sibahle Nkumbi was in Amsterdam to support the opening of an exhibition by fellow South African artist Zanele Muholi.
On Sunday Muholi, who had opened her photographic exhibition Faces and Phases at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum, featuring South Africa’s LGBT community, posted a video of the assault on Nkumbi.
In the video posted on YouTube, Nkumbi said the experience was bitter-sweet because they had been excited about the opening of the exhibition, but the assault had soured the mood.
“We knew that we were late (to check out) and we heard a bell ring,” said Nkumbi, who is a student in Bern, Switzerland.
Lerato Dumse, another South African who was also staying at the apartment, had gone downstairs to open the door. “The lady was a little bit upset, but she managed to speak politely to us. She stated that this was not acceptable, and said ‘you guys need to pack and leave now’,” said Nkumbi.
She acknowledged to the landlord that they were indeed late and asked for a few minutes to pack their luggage, while apologising for the inconvenience.
“She came back a few minutes later with her husband who was banging the door. I don’t know what she had told him, but he was already angry.” Mistaking Nkumbi for Muholi, the landlord allegedly told her: “You’re not the great artist that you think you are, you’re not the Queen, this is not Africa, you need to leave.”
As she was preparing to leave, the man grabbed her.
“I knew that he was going to throw me down there (the stairs). I lost my grip on the wall, and that’s when I flew down, all the way down the stairs.”
She says she passed out and regained consciousness in hospital.Amsterdam police spokesperson Marijke Stor said four women had rented the apartment, and were supposed to check out at 11am on Saturday.
“Around 12.30pm the women got in an argument with the person who rented them the apartment about the time they had to check out. At a certain moment the argument got physical and one of the women fell down the stairs.”
The police had arrested the owner. He was held overnight, but was released on Sunday, Stor said. Spokesperson for the Amsterdam public prosecutor Evert Boerstra said the suspect had been charged with attempted manslaughter.
Airbnb’s director of diversity & belonging, David King, condemned the incident, saying the landlord’s “appalling and unconscionable” behaviour against a guest ran counter to everything the company stood for.“Our chief executive Brian Chesky and I are reaching out to the affected guests.
“We will take the strongest actions we can against such abhorrent conduct, including banning people for life from our platform and assisting law enforcement with their investigation and potential prosecution.
“Nobody should ever be treated like this, and it will not be tolerated.”