A disturbing video clip showing a group of white South African men verbally and physically attacking a group of Black boys has captured the attention of the world as well as the country’s president.
On Wednesday morning three men were arrested in connection to the incident. Two of them were charged with common assault and crimen injuria, the unlawful and intentional impairment of someone’s dignity under South African law. A third man is facing an attempted murder charge.
The video posted to social media on Christmas Day depicts a few white adult males allegedly trying to prevent or eject a couple of Black boys out of the Maselspoort Resort and Conference Centre’s pool located in Bloemfontein, South Africa, according to Times Live.
The nation’s top elected official reasserted the constitution’s aspiration, saying there is no place for racism within the country’s borders, while the public is blasting the men as racists.
The video first shows the men telling one of the boys to leave the water. Then the men are seen hitting and pushing the child. Another child jumps in to help and is later grabbed by his neck, while a different man comes up and pulls the kid’s hair.
Some of the onlookers attempted to stop the men, but their intervention seemed to escalate the ruckus.
At the end of the video, a man is choking one of the boys and then jumping into the water with him. Another man jumps in, and before the 31-second clip is over he also looks to push him down under the water.
One boy’s father described the incident.
“As we were relaxing the boys came and told us that they are being prevented from using the pool by a group of white adult males. They said they were told by the men that the pool is only reserved for people who are booked here,” he said. “We went there with my sister to check on the kids and indeed when we arrived there, we engaged those white folks and they said ‘no, there was a miscommunication with the kids.'”
“They didn’t understand,” he continued. “They thought that they were not residents at Maselspoort because the swimming pool can only be accessed by residents and the kids told them we are residents here. I also told them we are residents here and we have paid just as they have paid.”
However, the men assaulted the boys after the parents left, the father said.
Roy Jankielsohn, leader of the Democratic Alliance Free State, urged the victims’ parents to press criminal charges against the men featured in the footage.
At least one family, The Nakedi Family, has moved forward to get justice for the boys, opening a common assault case. The father said he was disappointed that the men were not initially charged with attempted murder.
“One of the guys tried to drown the boy, that is attempted murder and it should have been registered as so but police told us they are only opening an assault case,” he said.
A police spokesperson stated the men have been ordered to appear in court.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa commended the police for pushing the matter forward, creating multiple dockets, and submitting to decide how or if the men should be prosecuted.
The president said Black and white South Africans have to work to eradicate racist thoughts in the country.
“Our constitution means exactly what it says when it declares that South Africa — and that means all of South Africa — belongs to all who live in it,” Ramaphosa said. “As Black and white South Africans, we should be united in condemning all manifestations of racism and attempts to explain or defend such crimes. Racism is not a problem to be fought by Black South Africans only.”
The president added it was important for the citizens to come together and “defend” South Africa’s “continuing national mission of ridding [its] society of the divisions and the hurts of [its] past.”
“We must also be united in ridding our society of the violence we see in the videos of the incident at the Free State resort, whether such violence comes with racism or not,” Ramaphosa said. “It is deplorable that adults dealing with teenagers resort to violence with such disturbing ease, hurting people physically and offending provisions in our Bill of Rights around the security of the person, including the right to dignity and being free of violence.”
Ramaphosa said the law calls for letting “investigations take their course but under the rule of law we can and must also declare that racism has no place in our society and racists have no place to hide.”
While the politicians are calling for people to unify and for justice through the system, people on social media are expressing their outrage. One of the boy’s sister’s video of the scuffle has been viewed over 20 million times.
“Trying to strangle and drown children? I don’t care how much they drank. They would never do this to white kids. They are racist. Full stop,” South African Annika Langa tweeted.
Another Twitter user, Juwanna Othmani, from Brooklyn, New York, said, “The s–t we as Black people still going through across the world is disgusting. How TF is there still segregation in #SouthAfrica in 2023?!!! This is only days ago. A WHITES ONLY POOL??? Are you sh–in me!!!
Community, government and political parties such as the Economic Freedom Fighters and the ANC in the Free State also responded, SABC News reported.
Economic Freedom Fighters held a protest after the incident at the pool.
A spokesperson from the resort, Nick Mitchell, said the establishment does not practice or allow any kind of segregation or racism. Hoping to distance itself from the ugly incident that happened on its premises, it referred the details of the incident to the police.
“At this moment the police are handling the situation. As mentioned, there is the police case opened against the parties involved,” Mitchell said.