An alleged racial incident in Knysna has exploded on Facebook.
Nathier Abrahams, a businessman from Cape Town who is one of the complainants, gained almost 5000 shares within one day for his impassioned retelling of what happened to him and a group of friends on December 31 2015.
The other side tells a completely different story.
It happened in the street outside a guesthouse in the suburb of Knysna Heights where he and a group of friends were staying, some for 6 days. They’d experienced a good holiday but that was not the main memory they would leave with.
“I’m shaking while I am typing this,” begins Abrahams. “Myself and a few friends were victims of a racist attack by two white males…” He then relates how a white neighbour in his sixties overreacted to one of their cars being incorrectly parked outside.
When they went to move the car they were allegedly verbally harassed by the man, beginning with, “Are you fucking stupid?” and “What is wrong with you fucking people, move your car NOW”. That they were being referred to in “us and them” terms was an indicator of the negativity to follow.
When they objected to further racial slurs, the situation became tense with voices raised both sides. The commotion attracted more people from the guesthouse. They claim to have demanded that he apologise and leave to which his response was, “Why should I lick your ass… I wish it was apartheid, then you’d see.”
A second neighbour then appeared, firearm in his right-hand. Without attempting to discover what was going on, he allegedly pointed the firearm at several of the tourists, first at a young woman. He said, “I don’t know what you Coloureds are capable of.”
The gun carrier held the gun behind his back after one of the guests informed him that he was a lawyer. The first neighbour got in his car, with a female passenger, showed a middle finger and insulted them again before driving off. The second neighbour returned to his home.
Several of the guests who were witnesses made comments on Facebook which cumulatively expressed their outrage: “The owner of the car went out, apologised and moved the car whilst the old man continued to swear at him. The car was far away from his house. It was equivalent to parking out of the white lines. The car did not block any driveway or the road as two cars could easily pass. It was just slightly on the road. It was parked incorrectly but did not warrant the commotion afterwards. The car was far from his house, and in no way inconveniencing him. We acknowledged that the car was parked incorrectly. The reaction was completely unacceptable. His racial slurs were on a level of its own. I didn’t think that 20 years after apartheid we would still be greeted with issues on skin colour.”
The brother of the young woman stated that, “He pulled out a gun and pointed it at my sister and her friends. Who gives a shit about that parking when people are trigger happy and can go around pointing guns when they feel hot under the collar?”
Another said, “It was sick and disgusting. The comments made by those okes made some feel less than human. It felt as though we were animals ripe for hunting when he brought out that gun. Well, that’s basically how racial it was. They even talk to their cats and dogs better. So what did that make us?”
Any article is best written with the all sides represented. My Facebook request for the identities of the locals gained a lot of views resulting in some info. Three people stated that the older man was an ex-policeman. His wife, who answered my call, said that it was best if i talked to her husband about it. However, despite her tone and him saying he lived in the next street, he stated that he knew nothing about the incident, that it must be a case of mistaken identity and that if the police must investigate, then they must investigate.
Did the neighbour with the gun have cause to believe that his life or the other resident’s was in danger, the only reason that could justify the weapon?
“That was exactly it,” said the man who wishes to be anonymous. “I believed an old man was in imminent danger. There were approximately 10 people there with 4 or 5 about to pull him from his car. My gun was kept lowered and soon as i saw none had a weapon, i held it behind my back. It was never pointed at anyone!”
He was quite adamant that Abrahams version is not what happened and that Abrahams was “twisting everything”. He said that there were other witnesses to what happened, including the neighbour who supposedly apologised – he said that wasn’t true [see 3 paragraphs below].
Furthermore, he said that the tourists videoed everything yet have only taken selective still shots from that. The video will show the truth. He has taken it to a lawyer and he wants investigation because it will prove that what he is saying is true.
Strangely, apparently, the Knysna CPF (Community Policing Forum) got involved later by only showing Abrahams a picture of the incorrectly parked car. To the tourists, this matter was not about the parking at all. It was about old school apartheid having never disappeared.
There was some light in a dark situation. Abrahams pointed out than an elderly lady, another neighbour, was also a witness and that she’d apologised to them and expressed her disgust, saying that her neighbours had acted “un-South African”. Abrahams also refused to tell this writer the name of the guesthouse as he said it would be unfair for the apologetic owner to suffer in the media.
Abrahams and his friends were worried that there would be more trouble if they laid charges in Knysna so they waited until they got back to Cape Town.
Abrahams concluded his retelling with: “Knysna is a tourist town and this incident has left a bad taste in my mouth and my fellow holiday goers.”
Another commentator stated: “Knysna isn’t Knysna.”
Read the follow-up at www.knysnakeep.org/follow-up-alleged-knysna-heights-racist-incident.