After the SABC interviewed a protester on Clifton’s Fourth Beach on Friday night, screenshots emerged of him and the phrase emblazoned on his T-shirt calling for the killing of all white people.
UPDATE (6.56pm): The “offending” shirt was apparently poking fun at the traditional “kill all white people” message. According to a Twitter user who contacted The Citizen, the full message on the T-shirt apparently reads, according to his photo: “Kill All White People Supremacy”.
Since the word ‘people’ has been struck through and replaced with ‘supremacy’, it would therefore be more consistent with the reasons its wearer said he was at the beach: to oppose racism.
On Facebook, critics said he had undermined the cause of the protesters, who were expressing anger that a private security company illegally ordered a group of largely black people to leave the beach after 8pm last Sunday, which was perceived by many as the protection of so-called white privilege and a return to apartheid-era laws.
According to people who watched the Friday news report, the man in the T-shirt was complaining about the alleged racism of a group of mostly white animal rights activists nearby. When the SABC journalist reportedly asked him about the message on his shirt, the man reportedly claimed he wasn’t really against white people and it was “just a shirt”.
The constitution protects free speech, including the right to offend, and to be offensive. Free speech, however, specifically excludes incitement to violence or a call to action that could result in grievous harm to another person. This is considered hate speech.
ANC Western Cape secretary Faiez Jacobs was among those ordered off the beach last Sunday and raised alarm about what happened to him and his family. The security company, Professional Protection Alternatives (PPA), reportedly also controlled entrances to Clifton beach, allegedly illegally approving access.
The Sunday Times reported today that questions have been raised about why members of the police’s new anti-gang unit were deployed to the beach on Friday. They report that a gang unit member confiscated a firearm from PPA.
On Friday, protesters against the alleged racism slaughtered a sheep in what they claimed was a traditional ceremony to ward off evil. It is illegal to slaughter an animal in a public place without a permit and animal-rights activists were on the beach to protest against the act, which they said amounted to animal cruelty.
One protester’s placard suggested he was against racism but not in favour of sheep being killed.
The protest was organised and led by former Rhodes Must Mall and Fees Must Fall leader Chumani Maxwele.
Members wearing the T-shirts of political parties including the ANC, EFF and Black First Land First (BLF) have been part of the beach protest.
The BLF in particular has become notorious for calling for the killing of white people, who they consider “settlers” with no rights to the land in South Africa.
The Sunday Times spoke to an unnamed Clifton resident, who revealed that the local neighbourhood Bungalow Owners’ Association had initiated a contract with PPA to guard their suburb in September. The resident told the paper they felt the company had done a good job to “clean up” the area and make them feel safer after a number of residents were reportedly “attacked in their homes by armed men”.
According to residents, criminals had also started ambushing them on their way down to the beach; so they decided to personally pay a security company to safeguard them.
PPA CEO Alwyn Landman told the Sunday Times: “It was basically lawlessness … clients explained to me that they would call the police and they would eventually get there after 40 minutes, sometimes not.”
The government regulator is investigating why a private security company started illegally interfering with people’s free movement in a public space.
In 2016, when a protester was seen wearing a “Kill All Whites” T-shirt at the University of Cape Town, the university brought charges against him, reporting the matter to the police and the SA Human Rights Commission.
UCT said the T-shirt’s message breached all limits of free speech and was hateful and vindictive.