A South African woman put herself in the middle of Hong Kong pro-democracy protests at the weekend and begged the police and protesters to “just stop”.
Hong Kong police on Monday unveiled water cannon trucks as a new way to combat pro-democracy protesters, after tear gas and rubber bullets failed to stop more than two months of rallies.
They fired tear gas on shopping streets and in subway stations, with protesters hurling bricks and spraying riot police with fire extinguishers and water hoses. A government official told AFP that 45 people were injured in the clashes, including two who were in serious condition.
In videos and pictures shared by AFP correspondent Elaine Yu, a South African woman who said she moved to Hong Kong to move away from protests was devastated to realise that the place she had grown to love also experienced protests.
The sobbing woman said though she understood what the protesters were fighting for, things were not “supposed” to be like that.
She told AFP: “I came from South Africa to move away from this. South Africa has this. This is not the Hong Kong I’ve learnt to love. Everybody in Hong Kong is so loveable and welcoming. To experience this hurts me. It really hurts me. There is good and bad to both protests and there is good and bad to police, and I just wish both sides would just stop.
“I understand what they’re fighting for and I appreciate what everybody is fighting for but this is not what we’re supposed to be like. We’re supposed to be fighting together, not against each other. This is not the Hong Kong that I want to be in. I don’t. I would rather go back to South Africa if this is what I’m gonna be living with for the next few years. It’s unacceptable.”
The video has been circulating on social media and those who have commented have showed little sympathy for her. They criticised her for involving herself in matters that have nothing to do with her.
Valentino Nikolizky said: “She really just wanna enjoy her white privilege in peace, In South Africa she’s not affected by everyday struggles of the masses. In Hong Kong she doesn’t relate to what the Hong Kong people are protesting for. She’ll be in Australia soon,” while Waseem Iman Saheb wrote: “You don’t know how hard this made me laugh – lol she ran away from South Africa to escape protests, which checked her on her privilege and the universe was like…nu uh lol. Imagine the caucasity [sic] to ask indigenous people not to protest for their rights cause it makes you uncomfortable.”
Former Western Cape premier Helen Zille only commented “shem” on the videos.
(Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde, additional reporting by AFP)