Durban - Are Indians really racist?
Retired Constitutional Court justice Zac Yacoob thinks so, and took a lot of flak from the community for his remarks, as reported in POST last week.
Yacoob is standing by his comments.
“All of us need to learn not to be racist,” he said this week. “We need to think about how we behave publicly as well as how we behave in our private spaces.”
He said there have been instances where he had attended public events and people who were least expected to be racist were disappointingly so.
Delivering the annual lecture organised by the Kharwastan Civic Association recently, Yacoob - reacting to the prison term handed down to racist Vicki Momberg - who used the “k-word” 48 times while refusing help from a police officer after a smash-and-grab incident in Johannesburg, said all races had racists.
“Many Indians are racist, just as I believe that many Africans are also racist,” he had said. “However, from my personal interaction within the community, I can state that at least 90% of Indians that I come across are racist.”
The former justice was hauled over the coals for his remarks, with people taking to social media to attack him.
Facebook user Satish Balgobind went as far as calling his comments “trash” while Ree Maharaj took offence at the “blanket statement”.
“He obviously interacted with the ‘wrong type of people’ it seems and shouldn’t make such a broad statement about all Indians,” Maharaj posted.
Maureen Govender: “He talks the biggest load of you know what. He needs to get off his high horse and talk to Indians who have gone through the Struggle.”
Anthony David: “Surely, you cannot agree with what a constitutional judge is saying. Instead of creating reconciliation, peace he is creating another type or form of people to have reason to start a revolution on each other, and this is not good for the country knowing presently the tension in the country about land expropriation
“Like the old saying if you got nothing good to say don’t say anything. It’s a sad day for our courts when officials at that level make those public comments.”
Denise Parasuramen Murugan: “As it is we are hated because we have come so far now this man wants to start a war and get us more sidelined...”
Sileena Sillz Gunnie: “Actually, whether we like to admit it or not, everyone has racist tendencies, white, black, coloured and Indian. That’s the truth, unless you aren’t exposed to other races then you shouldn’t even comment, and walking past people in a shop or mall isn’t exposure!”
Lallo Hariram of uMhlanga Ridge wrote to POST, saying she was “amazed” and “dumbfounded”.
“To label and tag Indian traders for exploiting Africans for their money is cheap mischief making and a ploy designed for a political agenda,” he wrote. “Any business in the world is based upon exploiting the market and reaping benefits with profits.”
Sathie Moodley, chairperson of the Kharwastan Civic Association which had hosted the former justice, stood by their guest of honour, saying everyone is racist, “in one way or the other”.
“We were brought up believing that black people were not equal to us and this was reinforced by apartheid,” he said.
Moodley said everyone was to blame for racism.
“It is a known fact that people in the country have derogatory names when they refer to a certain race group. But Momberg’s sentence is a lesson we all need to learn from. We need to see it as an exercise to ensure something like this never happens again.”