Namibia: Bok Captain Targeted in Outjo Racism Incident

ALLEGED racist remarks aimed at black Springbok rugby captain Siya Kolisi, who is married to a white woman, on Saturday formed part of a shocking incident at Outjo during which black patrons at a lodge were reportedly called baboons and pigs.

Some of the black patrons at Etotongwe Lodge say they have never experienced such racism at the town before and would need counselling to deal with the trauma.

A group of white patrons at the lodge allegedly became increasingly unhappy as the Springboks on Saturday began to falter against the touring British and Irish Lions in Cape Town.

They then started blaming Kolisi and the rest of the black players in the team. Kolisi was then allegedly referred to as "ugly" and that he looks like a mop.

Five black patrons of the lodge claim that the white patrons also said in Afrikaans that when black people die, "they become flies and bats", while white people "turn into butterflies and eagles".

They said white patrons also approached their table and farted.

One of the black patrons, Leonard Mupurua, says the group of white customers watching the rugby match continuously made racist remarks about Kolisi.

Mupurua says the remarks did not end with Kolisi.

They also focused on the other black players on the Springbok team.

"What is surprising is that they were wearing Springbok jerseys, but were not supporting the black players," he says.

Mupurua has been living at Outjo for the past eight months, and is employed by the Roads Authority as a roads inspector.

He says Saturday's incident as the first time he has ever experienced such racism.

Mupurua says when the game reached half-time, the white patrons told him and his friends to "shut up or go to wherever they belong [hell]".

"At this point I told them we won't be silent, instead they should increase the TV volume like before. This is when they referred to us as baboons, questioning why we were there," Mupurua says.

He says he has since laid charges against the group of five or six white patrons, adding that one of them is a local pharmacist, who allegedly called them "low lives, k*ff*rs and poor".

Mupurua says they are planning a peaceful demonstration against racism at Outjo this week.

Another black patron, Cindy Sawas, says the entire incident shocked and traumatised her.

She says she has also never experienced such racism at Outjo before.

Sawas, who is a nurse, says she recorded the incident, because the world needs to see what happened.

"At some point they punctured one of the tyres of the cars we were driving. I'm shocked. We had to call the police, but could only lay charges on Sunday," Sawas says.

Nancy Katjiuanjo, a healthcare worker at an Outjo hospital, says she is traumatised and may need counselling after the incident.

'I FEAR WHITE PEOPLE'

Speaking to The Namibian yesterday, she said her elders would tell stories about such incidents taking place in Namibia before independence.

"I never thought I would experience this. I'm shocked and traumatised. Now when I walk on Outjo's streets, I fear white people. What if this is what they think of black people? I am scared," she said.

Etotongwe Lodge owner Francois Theart said he is aware of the incident, and has provided the police with all available close-circuit television footage.

Outjo's local pharmacist was allegedly on holiday in an area with no network coverage.

Commissioner James Nderura, police commander for the Kunene region, confirmed the incident to The Namibian.

He said cases of assault with grievous bodily harm, defamation of character, and crimen injuria were opened.

"It's alleged that the suspects beat the complainant (Mupurua) with their fists and called the complainant a baboon. It's further alleged that the complainant went to Etotongwe logde with three friends to buy food.

"While they were waiting for their food, there were white guys watching rugby on TV, and one of the white guys said to the waitress in Afrikaans "jou hondjie, kom gee my dop" (you dog, come give me a drink).

"By that time South Africa's national rugby team was busy singing their national anthem before the game started. At the time there were two ladies singing on TV looking up, and one white men said to the other white guys 'why are the ladies looking up as if when they die, they are becoming bats?'," Nderura said.

The commissioner said Mupurua had a glass in his hand, and it is suspected that he was injured by the glass when he fell.

"The matter is still under investigation and no arrest has been made yet," Nderura said.

OTHER INCIDENTS

Following a separate incident at Stone Crushers at Outjo on 15 July, charges of defamation of character and racial discrimination were laid.

Nderura said the suspect in this incident called the complainant a "baboon", "black" and said he eats dogs.

"The suspects are known, but have not been arrested yet. Investigation is completed and the docket has been submitted to the prosecutor general for a decision," Nderura said.

The Namibian in 2004 reported that two white men were charged with the shooting and killing of a black man at Outjo they allegedly mistook for a baboon.

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