(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Metro police probe member who allegedly mocked Hinduism in viral video

By CHARLENE SOMDUTH Time of article published Apr 30, 2020

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Durban - METRO police are investigating a member who posted a video on Facebook that allegedly denigrates Hinduism. The officer, Selvan Pillay, is recorded, participating in his version of the #EggChallenge.

The challenge has been trending on social media and the participants can do one of two things: break a raw egg with their biceps or drink a raw egg with a scoop of sugar, followed by drinking alcohol.

In his video, Pillay sets up a table with a bottle of whiskey, a glass of beer, a glass of raw eggs, nine chillies, kungu ashes, turmeric powder, hot sauce, salt, pepper, lemon and cranberry juice.

He also places fruit on the table.

Dressed in pink pyjamas with matching flip-flops and glasses, he holds a coconut that has a piece of burning camphor on it. He then removes his flip-flops and begins his mock prayer by turning the coconut in a circular motion, in front of the items on the table.

While apparently emulating Hindus at prayer, he chants derogatory words.

Pillay then walks away to break the coconut and returns to begin the challenge by greeting Hindus and Muslims.

He mixes the raw eggs, ashes, turmeric, chilli powder, sauce, salt and pepper together before drinking the concoction - then eats the chillies and drinks the beer and whiskey.

A portion of the video, which was allegedly posted on the Dala U Crew Facebook page, ends with him shaving off his eyebrows. The officer then challenges others to do the same.

After receiving a backlash for the video, he posted a second video apologising to Hindus and Muslims. “It was not my intention to mock any religion. This was a challenge and I used it in a different way.

“I apologise to the Hindu and Muslim communities. I really apologise. I am so sorry for using the prayer and greetings in this video. I apologise.”

Community activists, social media users and religious organisations have reported him to his superiors.

Dala U Crew was also reported to the Film and Publications Board, for allegedly distributing the content.

Vedhan Singh, president of the SA Hindu Youth Movement, said they intended lodging a complaint with the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities.

“We are against any form of religious intolerance, blasphemy, bigotry and hate speech against Hinduism and the shaming of Hindu rituals, cultures and traditions,” said Singh.

He said the video was a gross violation of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. “He must face the full wrath of the law.”

The movement’s affiliate organisation, the SA Hindu Dharma Sabha, also intends to take legal action.

Ram Maharaj, the president of the Dharma Sabha, said he would make written submissions to the officer’s employer.

Shane Hansraj, a community activist in Phoenix, said he had lodged a complaint with the mayor’s office and the management of metro police.

“He is a police officer and he is supposed to be setting an example. His behaviour is unethical. He should be practising religious tolerance.”

An administrator from the Dala U Crew page, who did not want to be named, said the full version of the video was not posted on their platforms.

“We were sent an edited version of the video. It had no religious mocking or derogatory comments on it. We assumed this was the full video and we published it. We later removed it after it was brought to our attention that the full version of the video was both controversial and derogatory, and was being circulated.”

The administrator said their videos would always feature their logo and signature Dala U Crew song at the end, which this video did not have.

He said this was not a challenge initiated by Dala U Crew and there was no such thing as a Dala U Crew challenge.

He added: “The challenge in question is the egg challenge that was started by South Africans on social media platform Tik Tok. We posted many of those challenges, as can be seen on our page.

“We, however, apologise to the Hindu and Muslim communities for giving space to the author of the video, and will exercise more stringent processes in determining what we post.”

Steve Middleton, the head of metro police, said the matter was under investigation.

Lynette Kamineth, communications manager for the Film and Publications Board, confirmed it had received complaints regarding the video posted by Dala U Crew.

“We are currently looking into the merits of the complaint and will provide a response to the complainants.”

The SAHRC’s advocate, Lloyd Lotz, said the organisation had not yet received any complaints.

The officer could not be reached for comment. 

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