Pretoria family told to go back to India

By Chanelle Lutchman Time of article published Nov 20, 2020

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KRIBASHNEE Archary did not celebrate Diwali this year because she was mourning the death of her father. But it did not stop her and her family from being attacked and called c******.

Archary, 38, lives with her mother in Heuweloord in Centurion. Her father, who she shared a home with, died in May this year.

“As per the Hindu custom, when there is a death in the family, we mourn for a year," said Archary.

"We do not hold big celebrations or anything, out of respect for our lost loved ones.

“My dad loved Diwali. He used to go all-out to ensure that we enjoyed the day.

“Knowing the pain of not having him here, my sisters and their families came to our home to spend the evening with my mom and I."

Archary has three young nieces and gave them pop-pops and sparklers which were left over from last year to play with.

A short while later she heard the children shouting.

“When my brothers-in-law and I went to check, we saw five people outside our gate, throwing stones at the kids and shouting at them.”

Archary said she tried to find out what the problem was but the group of three men and two women became more violent, pushing and kicking the gate.

“They swore at us and threatened to shoot us. They called us c****** and told us to go back to India.”

Archary said her family recorded the behaviour with their cellphones and this made the people even more angry.

At some point, parts of the steel gate came loose and almost hit Archary’s mother.

The situation threatened to escalate when the men in the group attempted to pick up boulders near the gate to throw at them.

"My brother-in-law slipped through an opening and stood in front of the boulders.

“Thankfully, the women in the group acted as a barrier between the men and my brother-in-law. By this time, other neighbours heard the commotion and came outside.

“They also called security companies to assist."

Archary said the group then got into a van and drove off.

She said they lived on the same road but were not on speaking terms before the incident.

“We do not have a relationship with these people … It's upsetting that they chose to target us.”

Archary believed the group assumed she was at home alone with her mother and wanted to scare them.

"They did not expect my brothers-in-law to be at home."

She opened a charge of malicious damage to property and intends applying for a restraining order.

“We are upset and my nieces are still scared. We have been living in Pretoria for 28 years, 20 of which have been in Centurion.

“We have never had an issue like this before on Diwali.

“However, this year we were not even celebrating, yet we were attacked.

"I don't want these people to come near my family again. They hurt us and targeted my nieces.

“They kept saying if the gate wasn’t between us, they would kill us. We are afraid.”

Captain Mavela Masondo, a police spokesperson, confirmed that a case was opened.

“The motor gate was damaged on November 14 after an argument. No suspect was arrested and there were no injuries.”

The South African Hindu Dharma Sabha and the South African Hindu Youth Movement laid a complaint against the group with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

In a joint statement, both organisations said: “We cannot and will not allow any person or persons to trample upon Indian sensitivities with impunity.

“Intolerance will not be tolerated. Enough is enough.

“South Africa is still reeling from the devastating effects of a polarised and painful past.

“Our beloved country needs healing not hurting, harming and hating.

“It is imperative that a strong signal be sent out that racist and/or religious disrespect or intolerance will not be tolerated.”

Gushwell Brooks, communications co-ordinator at the SAHRC, said they were in the process of determining if the complaints had been registered.

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