By Matlhatsi Dibakwane Time of article published Aug 24, 2017

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DOES South Africa consistently condemn white on black assaults in the open, while black on white assaults are mostly ignored? The claims of double standards in dealing with racial incidents came into the spotlight in the Pretoria North Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

The so-called “KFC 5” - five white men accused of assaulting a black couple in Pretoria - were applying for bail. In the same court, two black men who allegedly assaulted a white man in a separate incident were also appearing.

Stephan Nel, Marius Harding, DJ van Rooyen, Ockert Muller and Joshua Scholtz are accused of verbally and physically assaulting Jacob and Dudu Sono on August 2 at a KFC outlet in Montana in the city.

In the other case, Denny Mahlangu and Modise Dooka were in the dock for assaulting Carel Kruger, a white man, with a brick in the Montana area four days after the KFC incident.

AfriForum protested outside the court, accusing South Africa of having double standards on how racial incidents were treated.

According to the organisation, white on black assaults were consistently condemned in the open, whereas black on white assaults were mostly ignored.

AfriForum felt that the appearance before the court of the two black suspects was not receiving the same condemnation as that of the KFC 5. “We are protesting about the fact that there are double standards regarding the issue of race in our country. We are here today to support Kruger who was assaulted by two people who were driving in a taxi, and he was hit with a brick. That incident got no big attention,” said AfriForum chief executive Kallie Kriel.

“A few days after that incident, in the same Montana area, Carine van Staden was shot brutally but it got no attention We also condemned the KFC attack but what we need to do is that all these attacks be condemned in the same manner.”

The defence attorneys for the KFC five also argued during their bail application that the outcry of the public was not sufficient to keep their clients behind bars. They further said “it was not a case of racism, but purely coincidence”.

The attorneys accused Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula of making matters worse by labelling the KFC assault accused a “gang” on social media.

But, they said, Mbalula had not been vocal about former deputy minister of education Mduduzi Manana’s alleged assault on a woman at a Fourways nighclub.

Neither had the minister been vocal about the teenage boy in KwaZulu-Natal, who was seen in a video assaulting a female schoolmate.

The attorneys asked that the bail application not be based on the outcry of the public.

Their clients should be granted the chance to exercise their right to getting bail without public opinion.

The prosecution, however, argued that members of the public were angry and that if the accused were given bail they would not be safe. They were better off behind bars.

The prosecution also said the police did not have enough resources to make sure the accused did not jeopardise the case by harassing the witnesses or the victims.

The Sonos were not as innocent as social media portrayed them to be, said the defence team, as they sought to explain how the altercation started. They referred to the injuries suffered by the husband as “exaggerated” and said they were neither serious nor life-threatening.

But on the witness stand, investigating officer Constable William Tladi said Sono could have died of the injuries suffered.

In the other case heard in an adjoining courtroom, the accused made their second appearance, facing charges of assault with intent to cause bodily harm. They were remanded in custody and their case was postponed to September 19.

That case, AfriForum said, was not given much attention, even though Kruger was hit with bricks, according to the court charge sheet.

Kruger said he had been driving along a road in Montana on the night of August 6 when a taxi changed lanes and almost cut him off. He hooted and flashed his lights, he said, after which his bakkie was forced off the road by the taxi.

He said he tried to escape but the taxi pursued him, caught up with him and the occupants tried to pull the bakkie keys out through the window. When he resisted they started hitting him through the window, he said. They then started hitting him with bricks, while other motorists drove on and no one intervened. Not even two metro police officers in the area offered to stop the assault, he said.

While AfriForum protested outside the court, questioning the double standards of racial incidents, Black First, Land First (BFL) members were inside court to support the Sono couple. They also said they stood in solidarity with the two men accused of assaulting Kruger.

The BLF members said the principle of “blacks can’t be racist” had to be observed.

All whites found guilty of racism had to serve a prison term of 20 years, the BLF members said.

The bail application of the KFC assault continues tomorrow.

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