Spur incident should assist us in building our rainbow nation

Letter to the Editor by
Manny de Freitas MP

mannyDear Editor,
It seems that everyone is talking about the recent incident that took place this weekend at the Spur in The Glen in Oakdene. The filming of the incident appears to have started without the background to the incident being explained. Without contextualising the incident, it becomes more difficult to understand what led to the incident between the man and woman.
However, the truth of the matter is that it actually doesn’t matter. Both adults involved behaved very badly. To make it worse, all this took place in front of small children. The reality is that the gentleman concerned behaved inappropriately when dealing with a lady. Being intimidating and bullying is unacceptable in any circumstance. Add our historical context and the incident becomes even worse. Clearly, the lady was afraid and instinctively reacted in defence.
I read that members of the public have criticised the staff of Spur for not intervening. Although I hold no brief for Spur, I can imagine that this type of thing is not covered in their staff training manual; it shouldn’t. This type of behaviour should never happen! I would like to believe that this type of conduct is restricted to a very small number of people and that this is not how most South Africans behave.
What really concerns me is that, since the incident, a picture of a girl child, with marks on her face after being slapped claiming to belong to the incident, is making the rounds. As usual, people simply forward the picture without verifying its authenticity. Some basic research would show that the picture refers to another incident in the United Kingdom. The irresponsible circulation of unrelated photos does not help in any way.
I understand that the lady concerned has apologised unreservedly and has admitted that she was wrong in what she said and how she behaved. I congratulate her for her courage and humility. However, I understand that the man concerned has said nothing. This is most disappointing to say the least.
Incidents such as these should remind us how important it is for each and every one of us to assist in uniting South Africans. The rainbow nation can only be built when incidents like these cross our paths, that we approach the other party with care with what and how we say things.
I have no doubt that if the man concerned had approached the lady in a different, more positive way, her reaction would be equally reciprocal.

Manny de Freitas MP
Shadow Minister of Transport
Democratic Alliance