How will South Africans feel if they wake up one morning to find their toddlers all on the streets with their home made “I Hate Racism” Placards? Well perhaps it might bring a lasting solution to the cancer that has enraged the country. Ten-year-old Gillian Webber was seen stretching herself on her toes just to hold up her home-made “I hate racism” placard as high as she could at a protest in Scottburgh yesterday.
The little girl had pleaded with her mother to take her to the KwaZulu-Natal seaside town’s main street to join the march against racist social media rant made by one of its residents, Penny Sparrow, which was organised by the ANC Youth League; finally gets the opportunity to air her opinion.
“Gillian overheard my mother tell a friend about the post and was horrified. She learned about the protest from TV news and begged me to take her there. I didn’t know what to expect but I knew I had to take her,” her mother, Lisa Bagshaw, said.
Lisa went further to say that her daughter was excited to have joined in the protest and hopped that other similar protests will be scheduled for her to be part of. “Gillian felt much better after the protest. She said she will keep the T-shirt for the next march but I told her we must hope there won’t ever be another incident like this that we would have to protest against,” Lisa said.
The Peaceful protest which was led by Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa and provincial ANC leaders, had about 300 league supporters, civil society and religious leader protesting against Sparrow’s comments about black people who she called “Monkeys”.
The protest also had most shops on the main street closed as hoax posts on Facebook and Twitter warned residents to stay away and shop owners to shut their businesses because 3000 protesters were expected to descend. they proceeded further to lay a criminal charge against Sparrow at the local police station.
“If you are black or if you are white and you have racist tendencies, we are going to come together to show we will not tolerate you,” Mthethwa said.
Meanwhile, the CEO of Jawitz Properties, the company where Penny was an agent, had reacted against her statement on facebook. Herschel Jawitz said Penny Sparrow’s comments were unacceptable and that she (Penny) had ceased to be a company employee in November 2015.
Jawitz expressed how unfortunately, his company’s brand has been tainted with Penny’s comment. To this, he added that the company was exploring legal options “to ensure that Penny Sparrow is held accountable for her words.”
“Jawitz Properties has been operating for many years during which it has built an impeccable reputation in the marketplace. We would like to strongly emphasize that the racial comments made by the ex-employee were done in her personal capacity and have no reflection whatsoever on our company or its views.
“There is no place for these views in our country, in our society, in our industry and especially not in our Company.” He said.