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'You cannot make these comments and say sorry afterwards'

Racism accused Johannes David Kriel, right, outside the Durban Magistrate’s Court, with an unidentified person. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng

Racism accused Johannes David Kriel, right, outside the Durban Magistrate’s Court, with an unidentified person. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng

Published Jan 18, 2017

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Durban – Durban Indian religious organisations are calling for the man accused of making racist comments about Diwali celebrations to be sentenced to community service in Indian communities as part of his rehabilitation to teach him to co-exist with other races.

Religious groups representing various Indian communities in Durban were reacting after the court appearance of Johannes David “Dawie” Kriel in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday on charges of crimen injuria.

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The matter was however adjourned until January 27 after Kriel decided to change his legal representative from Legal Aid attorney Nalika Naidoo to a private attorney.

He indicated to the court he intended to plead guilty and the case was postponed to allow his new attorney to prepare the plea application.

Nadas Pillay, president of the SA Tamil Federation, said they were calling for courts not to let Kriel walk away with just an apology.

Pillay said letting him get away lightly would be the same as leaving the issue of racism unattended.

“His comments were extremely racist and reflect the kind of man he is."

“He is obviously unable to co-exist with people out of his race."

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“The most effective justice would be to expose him to doing work in the communities outside of his own."

“We believe that this would help him tolerate other races,” he said.

Representatives from the ANC and the DA laid charges in November after Kriel’s racist outburst on Facebook.

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Referring to crackers and fireworks, Kriel said:“Zuma still gives the Guptas and company license to import that s**t by container load...”

He criticised “those idol worshippers and devil disciples who buy them in the name of religion”, telling them to “* *** off back to their dark hole in backwoods of India. I could strangle you morons with bare hands and derive great pleasure in watching your face turn blue and your tongue pop out”.

Pillay said South Africans should not accept Kriel’s apology for his serious comments and threats just because he claimed to have made them in anger.

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“He needs to be taught a lesson about what constitutes hate speech in order to stop racism in its tracks,” said Pillay.

Ashwin Trikamjee, president of the Hindu Maha Sabha, said regardless of the fact that Kriel now wants to plead guilty in court, he was eagerly waiting to hear the kind of sentence that would be handed down by the court.

“The sentence should send out a message that the time has come where you cannot make these comments and say sorry afterwards."

“You will have to pay for it,” said Trikamjee.

He said more fireworks were actually used during the festive season than during Diwali.

“Fireworks are an issue that finds itself being used by the entire South African community whereas during Diwali it’s a certain section of the Indian community."

“Our community is in favour of controlled fireworks,” he said.

He felt the appropriate sentence would be one that sent a message that one cannot make racist comments anymore.

Political parties packed the court public gallery.

Mdumiseni Ntuli, ANC provincial spokesperson, said Kriel’s comments undermined the democratic values of the country.

He said the people who disrespect the laws of the country should be removed from society and be sent to jail.

“The accused is not a young man. He is an adult who has lived in this country for years, he knew very well what he was saying when he made those racist comments,” said Ntuli.

Zwakele Mncwango, Democratic Alliance provincial leader, said they believed that the court would look at all the merits of the case and pass an appropriate sentence.

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