Facebook, social media racism on the rise

A Facebook status posted on Thursday morning by a young Durban resident is to be investigated by the South African Human Rights Commission.

The post lashed out at minibus taxi drivers and made reference to the colour of their skin, after she was allegedly almost knocked off her scooter earlier on Thursday morning.

Hillcrest resident Sarah Meugens told The Witness that it had been the third incident where she had almost been knocked off her scooter by a taxi.

“I just want to say f**k those f**kers … F**k the colour of their skin, f**k the idiocy in their mindset,” she said in her post.

“Every taxi I see will be vandalised by me, but until then I pray every single one of them f**king crash and the driver is burned alive in the f**king taxi.

“All I need is a Hilux, some Rottweilers and a pointed white hood … you just f**ked with the wrong whit [sic] person.”

The post generated a few comments by Facebook friends of Meugens’s, saying they agreed with her post.

The South African Human Rights Commission spokesperson Isaac Mangena said they had received many cases around social media racism and were concerned about “racism in general”.

“Although we have not received a formal complaint regarding this post, we will launch an own-initiative investigation on it,” said Mangena.

“We do receive and deal with a lot of racism cases as the commission and many of them come from social media.

“From our observation, the commission has observed an increase in the number of complaints relating to what people post in social media. The complaints relating to social media are often complex and are triggered by a range of varying factors.

“We note that the phenomenon is exacerbated by irresponsible use of social media and is increasing globally,” he said.

“The laws are in place for a reason and in a country whose history is centred on racism and oppression, with concerted efforts being made to move forward in this regard, people creating public forums have a responsibility to obey the law and stand up to hate speech and racism.”

He said racist and hate-filled comments should not be allowed to flourish in the public domain.

“With regards to Facebook comments, the SAHRC says that everyone has a responsibility to ensure their pages do not contain hateful and racist commentary posted there by others, otherwise they become ‘secondary publishers’.”

Meugens later retracted her post and in another post, apologised to anyone she had offended.

“Many of you have read my vent on Facebook this morning. It was not directed at a specific individual and it was a heartfelt anger vent. I am angry and disheartened and apologise if I have offended anyone,” she said.

Durban West taxi association co-ordinator Johnson Mbambo said the remarks were uncalled for.

“I have not seen the remarks myself but I have been told what she said. That is not right, she should not launch an attack on everyone.

“I would like to encourage her to contact the Durban West association so she could tell us what happened and give us the details of the taxi so we could be able to trace the taxi and discipline the driver,” he said.

‘Unacceptable’

Institute for Race Relations spokesperson Mienke Steytler said they condemned discrimination of any kind and that social media posts of this nature do absolutely nothing to further reconciliation in South Africa.

“It is completely unacceptable,” she said.

She added that some of the comments that the post generated were equally as shocking.

THE SAHRC said they received and dealt with many racism cases and that many of them came from social media.

They said they had received 260 complaints received from racism on social media but said this is not necessarily a true reflection of that province.

  • Eastern Cape – 5
  • North West – 6
  • Free State – 15
  • Northern Cape- 19
  • Mpumalanga – 20
  • Limpopo – 22
  • Western Cape – 35
  • Kwazulu-Natal – 44
  • Gauteng – 94

The Witness

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Facebook, social media racism on the rise