‘Racist’ Facebook pic 3 years old

Time of article published Aug 29, 2011

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A picture on Facebook in which a white man poses with a rifle over the apparently lifeless body of a black child is three years old, according to reports.

The Sunday Times splashed the picture on its front page on August 28, 2011 under the heading “Wanted: Facebook racist”.

It said the picture was “on the social networking site in the profile of a user called ‘Eugene Terrorblanche'“ and that “While it is not known if the photograph is genuine or has been manipulated, a child protection charity has expressed concern for the well being of the youngster”.

The Sunday Times' did not date the picture and said it was unclear if the picture was was posed, digitally created or real.

The newspaper said it had sent a link of the picture to the Hawks unit of the SAPS and they had immediately launched an investigation. “The search is now on for the person or persons responsible for the picture, for whoever created the user profile and for those who have seen the photograph but failed to report it.”

Later in the day, the police ministry warned that there should not be a racial connection made to the picture.

“Even if the child was white, or the man was black... once you narrow it down to a racial aspect it becomes problematic. Murder is murder,” Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa's spokesman Zweli Mnisi said.

Political parties also released statements condemning the pictures.

But, according to Politicsweb.co.za, Eye Witness News reporter Mandy Wiener commented on Twitter that she was “surprised by Sunday Times lead story re Facebook racism. I did the story for EWN several years ago & it was well known then”.

In a follow up tweet she said that in May 2008 “EWN exposed the picture which is on the front page of the SunTimes on a FB group called 'Ek laaik nie 'n houtkop nie so what'.” In answer to a query as to whether the man with the rifle was ever tracked down she added: “I tried at the time and seem to recall it was a hoax.”

Politicasweb said the story on the racist Facebook group - established by a few students at the University of the North West - was extensively reported on in the press in early October 2008.

The Facebook group and the photograph were subsequently mentioned in reports and analyses in Beeld, Die Burger, Volksblad, the Independent Group newspapers and the Mail & Guardian.

A Sapa report carried by IOL in October 2008 stated: “The North West University (NWU) on Monday expressed shock over the existence of a racist group on Facebook and the involvement of some of its students as officers of the group...It was reported that the group called “ek laaik nie 'n houtkop nie, sou what” (I do not like a 'houtkop', so what?) contains inflammatory comments posted by members. The group apparently also showed a photograph of a young white man holding a gun while posing over the trophy of a young black boy lying on the ground.”

In November 2008 a student linked to the page was expelled from the university and the picture was reportedly removed from Facebook.

On Monday a Beeld report said that the Hawks are now saying that the police had already investigated the photo in 2007. The man concerned told the police back then that he had paid the child to lie like that.

On Twitter Sunday Times editor Hartley defended the decision to publish this extremely racist image on the front page of his newspaper despite its being at least three years old, saying: “Our story is about an extremely racist image being published on Facebook now, in 2011. We must find the person who published this image.” - IOL

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