‘If she said cockroach, I can say hottentot’
Cape Town - “If Baleka Mbete can call Julius Malema… a cockroach, then I can call Sherri-Lynn Rigney a hottentot.”
This was the response Langebaan guest house owner Jennifer Abrahams gave the Cape Times on Wednesday when questioned about racist slurs she made to Rigney via e-mail.
On Wednesday, the Cape Times newspaper reported that Abrahams had called Rigney a “typical Saartjie Baartman hottentot”, before making other racial slurs on Sunday.
To defend her remarks, Abrahams used a statement National Assembly Speaker Mbete had made about EFF leader Malema at the Mmabatho Civic Centre in Mafikeng on February 14, two days after EFF MPs were forcibly removed from the National Assembly chamber.
Abrahams told the Cape Times: “If Baleka Mbete can call Julius Malema, who is the party leader I vote for, a cockroach, then I can call Sherri-Lynn Rigney a hottentot. If I must go to court for using such a term, then Mbete must go to court as well.”
Last week, Rigney enquired about a holiday house advertised on online classifieds site Gumtree.
Rigney and her husband Angus, 28, have been married for four years and planned to celebrate their wedding anniversary with a holiday to Langebaan on March 28.
Rigney sent the Cape Times a thread of e-mail correspondence between herself and Abrahams on Wednesday.
After a heated exchange on Sunday, Abrahams wrote: “You have no religious respect. Typical Saartjie Baartman hottentot. Will not read your messages.
“Het jy nog voortande (do you still have front teeth?). Do you call yourself people (sic) or baboon?”
On Wednesday, Abrahams said: “I told her she is a hottentot, which has no racist meaning. She is more hottentot than Asian or Indian. As far as I know, the terms boer and hottentot are not classified as illegal.
“I know this lady comes from the hottentot culture, I wanted to know if she also removed some teeth as done in hottentot culture.
“By referring to her as Saartjie Baartman, I meant she still acts like the hottentots of 1652.
“She has no upbringing. No decent lady tells a person motherf***** and f**** you.
“If I have to meet her in person, I will tell her that she is a 1652 Saartjie Baartman hottentot who belongs in a trailer park and not between white sheets on the coast of Langebaan.”
Rigney admitted she had replied: “You racist motherf*****! F*** you!” This came after Abrahams’s Saartjie Baartman remark.
Rigney’s husband Angus said Abrahams had again contacted his wife on Wednesday, saying she would open a case against her and would be distributing 50 000 pamphlets at traffic lights all over Cape Town to expose her.
She told Rigney: “You have no upbringing! You act like a 1652 Saartjie Baartman hottentot! You are a disgrace for decent coloured people!”
He said Abrahams’s latest comments had left Rigney so disturbed she could not go to work. “My wife is in a state at home, in total distress.
We thought she would apologise after the initial article.
“I will be taking Sherri to the police station to make a case when I get home.”
Gumtree had recommended via e-mail on Monday that the Rigneys report the matter to the police.
Once the website officials receive the case number, a trust and safety officer would assist the police.
An e-mail from Gumtree on Wednesday read: “Gumtree has a zero-discrimination policy across the board, which can be echoed throughout the policy pages for all categories.”
Meanwhile, the Rigneys received two offers for free getaways on Wednesday. One was from Doreen Februarie, who owns a guest house in Kleinmond, and another was from Sakkie de Villiers, who owns a boathouse in Kraalbaai.
“We thank them for these gestures. It’s great that something good can come out of this situation,” said Angus.