“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 whatsoever so to allow them loose is inviting huge dirt and troubles and discomfort to others,” Penny Sparrow wrote.
Her comments were the embers to a blaze of tweets and posts using the #RacismMustFall hashtag for Black people to express their revulsion of Sparrow and her racist language. Barely a quarter century after the fall of white rule in South Africa, the comments reflect the stinging reminder of white privilege still exercised in the country.
“I’m sorry to say that I was amongst 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 about statute and get their way, dear oh dear.
“From now 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 wrote on her page.
Sparrow was a member of the South African political party the Democratic Alliance. Her ties with the party have since been suspended and the DA promised to bring Sparrow up on full legal charges.
“Racists are not welcome in the DA, and have no place in our democratic South African society,” said DA spokeswoman Refiloe Nt’sekhe. “Attitudes of such vitriolic racism have absolutely no place in SA. To this end, the DA has laid criminal charges against Penny Sparrow, for investigation of crimen injuria for infringing the dignity of all South Africans and for dehumanizing black South Africans.”
As for Sparrow’s defense, she claims her words were a mistake and misunderstood. Her interview with a local South African news station fanned flames back into perspective when Sparrow attempted to explain herself, “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. “It’s just that they [black people] make a mess. It is just how they are.”
The ruling party, the African National Congress, is actively seeking Sparrow’s prosecution, while the leader of the oppositional party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, said the dispute reflected a failure to implement structural reforms in post-apartheid South Africa.
“The recent Facebook posts are manifestations and results of a failed reconciliation project which was conceptualized without justice in the first place … The ANC is the first to blame for the comfort white racists enjoy in our country. It taught them to just say sorry and life will move on as normal,” the Economic Freedom Fighters party said in a statement.