A lesson about facts and opinion for McKaiser
RIGHT OF REPLY
I am reluctant to engage with individuals who, despite all the information available to them, continue to promote their own opinion and choose to ignore what others have to say.
However, the Mail & Guardian has given Eusebius McKaiser a platform and I believe it is necessary to respond to his column addressed to me last week (“A racism lesson for Mayor Plato”) because of the ongoing distortion in the media and the rampant political exploitation by the ANC to purposefully drive a racially divisive narrative before the upcoming elections.
The readers of the M&G should be given the facts about the Clifton case and not merely the many broad accusations and assumptions that have been flying around.
It would seem that, in his column last week, McKaiser conflates a number of legitimate issues with false accusations to paint them all with the same brush. There is no question that institutional racism still exists and it is a problem that affects individuals all over the world. We continually need to challenge racism wherever we find it, but what happened at Clifton wasn’t racism and in last week’s column McKaiser is wrong on many counts.
He is wrong to label local ratepayers with legitimate safety concerns as “white supremacists”. He is wrong to dismiss the legitimate safety concerns experienced by local ratepayers and beachgoers alike from all communities as people with “racism that runs in their blood”.
The following is an extract from an online column by Marie-Louise Antoni addressing the Clifton incident, which demonstrates the level of the area’s safety concerns. “There’s been a very bad decline in policing in Camps Bay,” said Bernard Schäfer, chairperson of the Camps Bay Community Policing Forum. “I’m talking about a literal collapse within SAPS [South African Police Service] in terms of our shift capability.”
The Western Cape has about 4 000 fewer SAPS members than it should have. This has been the result of years of under-resourcing by the national government. Policing shortcomings, while considerably more pronounced in this province, are not exclusive to the Western Cape, as we have seen many communities across the country employ the services of private security in an attempt to fill the hole left by official law enforcement.
The city, too, needs additional law enforcement, which is why I will be ensuring more law enforcement officers are recruited for Cape Town this year, and in coming years.
I visited several beaches during the holiday season and I engaged with beachgoers of all ages and races, enjoying themselves side by side. I visited Clifton beach, too, in the heat of the political exploitation by the many political opportunists. I spoke to the Professional Protection Alternatives’ (PPA) management, I spoke to local ratepayers, and I spoke to beachgoers to get the facts first-hand.
The “protesters” were not interested in speaking to anyone other than the media and tried to prevent others from expressing their views.
Beachgoers who were present on December 23 last year have made it clear that people of all race, and not just specific races groups, were informed about safety concerns and advised that it may be in their best interest to leave. The PPA may have over-reached itself in its duties and the city has opened a case with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority to determine whether any wrongdoing was committed and, if so, to ensure that the appropriate action istaken. The ANC did not make any official complaint; instead, it chose to issue a media release with false accusations, which was published in the media before any of the facts were established.
This incident could have been managed very differently with a simple complaint to the right authorities, who could have immediately acted to prevent any repeat of private security over-reaching in its duties.
The city, however, found out through the ANC’s media release claiming a return of “beach apartheid”, and we acted immediately when we became aware of the claims.
Last week’s column does legitimate cases of racism a disservice as it ignores the blatant and highly damaging political opportunism and race-baiting that took place.
One just needs to visit any of Cape Town’s beaches, where all race groups and demographics enjoy the space together, to see the inclusivity.
With fake news drowning out our news channels and sloppy reporting turning away readers, our media have a duty to report accurately and responsibly.
Where there are legitimate cases of racism, blatant or covert, we must always call them out but we should equally guard against driving a racially divisive narrative that fuels more racism instead of building cohesion and unity. Let us never sweep these matters under the rug but let us also watch out for those who cry wolf and use the accusation to drive their own agendas.
Dan Plato is the executive mayor of Cape Town
Letter to the editor
Eusebius [McKaiser] is the one person who is always writing about racism, yet he is the biggest racist of all.
He is always trying so hard to find racism in anything to do with the Democratic Alliance or any white person. Ninety-five percent of what he writes about is about racism. Shame. He should have got that chip off his shoulder by now.
No, Eusebius, we are not racist when we do not like sheep being slaughtered on a beach, when #FeesMustFall groups gather on a popular beach for all, including tourists, especially at this time of the year.
They have made sure that they receive all the publicity they can. That is racist, as it is always pointing at whites. — Elbie Steytler, Welgelegen