Cape Town — The Democratic Alliance is planning to pull Penny Sparrow’s membership, the party said yesterday.
This after the KwaZulu-Natal woman compared black people to monkeys on her Facebook page over the weekend, leading to a national outcry.
DA national spokesperson Refiloe Nt’sekhe said the party in KwaZulu-Natal had served notice of intention to suspend Sparrow’s membership and had referred her conduct to the Federal Legal Commission for investigation.
“Racists aren’t welcome in the DA, and have no place in our democratic South African society,” the party said.
Sparrow would be given the opportunity to appeal the suspension. Sparrow is an ordinary member of the DA.
In her post Sparrow wrote: “These monkeys that are allowed to be released on New Year’s eve and New Year’s day on to public beaches towns etc obviously have no education what so ever so to allow them loose is inviting huge dirt and troubles and discomfort to others. “I’m sorry to say that I was among the revellers and all I saw were black on black skins what a shame. I do know some wonderful and thoughtful black people. This lot of monkeys just don’t want to even try. But think they can voice opinions and get their way of dear,” she continued.
“From now on I shall address the blacks of South Africa as monkeys as I see the cute little wild monkeys do the same, pick and drop litter,” Sparrow added.
This is the second time the party has had to deal with racist Facebook post from members.
DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard’s membership was terminated at the end of October after she shared a Facebook post from journalist Paul Kirk, in which he praised former apartheid president PW Botha. She was reinstated in December after she fought the expulsion.
Black Like Me founder and DA member Herman Mashaba has also laid a crimen injuria charge against Sparrow.
“Attitudes of such vitriolic racism have absolutely no place in South Africa,” Nt’sekhe said.
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu also condemned Sparrow’s comments, but warned not all white people should be tarred with the same brush.
“It’s very unfortunate that at this day and age, we still have people who harbour some racist tendencies. Our province has come a long way from colonialist and apartheid’s domination to be an all-embracing province. This is evidenced by the number of domestic and foreign tourists who come to our shores each year,” Mchunu said.
He appealed for calm in the province. “We’re encouraged by the fact that most people of our province haven’t only embraced non-racialism, non-sexism [and a] democratic and free society. They’re making serious strides to dent the racist bigotry from people such as Penny and her associates who masquerade as champions of the underprivileged, yet still harbour white supremacist ideologies which seeks to undermine our hard fought gains,” the premier said.
Sparrow was adamant yesterday and said that she was merely “stating the facts”.
Speaking to News24, she revealed what had driven her to compare black revellers to monkeys. “Every year it is the same story; it’s their [black people] day and we don’t go in the beach, we don’t interfere, we let it be. We all know it and there’s nothing wrong. We stay out of the way and stay at home,” she said.
“I’m sorry that it has taken such a viral turn, but it was just a statement of how it was. I made the mistake of comparing them [black people] with monkeys. Monkeys are cute and they’re naughty, but they [black people] don’t see it that way, but I do because I love animals,” she said.
“I wasn’t being nasty or rude or horrible, but it’s just that they [black people] make a mess. It is just how they are.”
Sparrow remained largely unrepentant, saying that she had just “said it how she felt it”.
“I put an apology up to say I didn’t mean it personally. That day on that beach it was all black people, I’m sorry to say it, but it is a fact of life. I said it as I felt it and I know it was wrong to do it on a public thing [Facebook] like that. I don’t know how it got out and we were all saying it,” Sparrow added.
Sparrow had initially disputed the content of her Facebook post which stated that she was among the revellers on the beach that day.“That isn’t me. I know it’s like that [the packed beaches], why would I say that? Any person, a white skinned person or an Indian that goes down to the beach on that day doesn’t know the country, I know it very well.”
Later she conceded that she stood by the facts of her post, when it was read back to her. “I realise now that they [blacks] obviously hate that. I don’t recall putting it like that. I just remember saying that there were so many black people like monkeys dropping things everywhere. …making love in the bushes is, you know, fine if that is what they want to do, but the dirt was just terrible,” she said.
“I work with blacks and I am kind to them and they have accepted me. I have worked with an Indian girl who kept my job open while I was in hospital. She’s a wonderful girl and she’s an Indian. Blacks can also be wonderful and I don’t hate the black people, it is just a fact that it was so filthy and dirty this year and that is my only point,” she reiterated.
Sparrow said that her two phones had been crippled by messages and hate mail, after it emerged that she had sought the help of the police as she feared for her life.
“I can’t use my phone because the messages stream in non-stop. I don’t know why they have involved my daughter because she has nothing to do with this and nothing to do with me,” she said.
She said that she was born in East Africa and “raised by blacks, that’s just how it was” and hence had no reason to have anything against a black person.- Sapa