PRETORIA, South Africa – A Pretoria man will lodge a complaint with the SA Human Rights Commission and open criminal charges against a resident at a plush complex who allegedly hurled racist insults at him and his guests for lighting fireworks on Sunday.
Pradeep Ramlall, his family and guests – including Indian diplomats – were the subject of a scathing verbal attack while they were celebrating Diwali at his son’s home in Arcadia, about a kilometre from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s official residence.
Around 70 people, including 30 diplomats from India, had gathered at the Falcon’s Nest Clubhouse for the celebration when a resident in the complex, Chris Venter, approached them.
Ramlall said they had obtained permission from the body corporate to set off fireworks until 11pm.
“I hosted the gathering and it was mixed crowd of people of different nationalities and races who attended. A lot of my guests had brought their children along to witness the display. It was mainly for the children.”
Ramlall said they were “abruptly interrupted” by Venter, who, Ramlall claimed, used vulgar language and racial slurs.
“He called my son the k-word and even referred to us using the c-word, saying we must go back to India.”
Venter was captured on video arguing with Ramlall and his family.
TimesLIVE is also in possession of footage of Venter destroying the fireworks.
Ramlall was expected to open charges on Monday for malicious damage to property, crimen injuria, harassment and theft.
On Tuesday he will lay a complaint against Venter at the SA Human Rights Commission.
Quoted on Facebook:
So today on what was meant to be a Happy Occasion for me as an Indian South African, we had a white man from our complex come and swear at us (both Indian and non Indian/white residents) and all the Indian Diplomats who we were celebrating with. He told us to “all go back to India “, and called me a “kaffir” when I argued back with him. He threatened to punch us all, including the women and then proceeded to take our box of fireworks and throw them everywhere and then he tore up most of our fireworks. We as a complex, had got permission to light fireworks between 7:30 to 8:30 and all residents in the area had been informed by both email and letter . Our party was not that of only Indian but rather a variety of both non Indian and Indian peoples who came to celebrate together- as South Africa should be. To this racist bigot, I as a child post 1994 will not keep quiet to the likes of you and your hateful ways. To the children of both Black, White and Indian descent I am sorry that when you all walked up to me after this had happen I had to tell you that “No, we would not be able to light fireworks any more”, due to the hateful actions of this man. May you all never grow up to be like him.
When approached for comment, Venter denied the allegations, saying he never used any derogatory words.
He was adamant he was not a racist, and said he had been fighting for animal rights after his cat suffered an injury due to the fireworks.
“There are a lot of witnesses as well that were there of the Indian and Hindu community who are with me on that, who said I have not said that.”
Venter said it would not make sense for him to say the k-word because he doesn’t think “it’s applicable to Hindu people”, and he would have “said something else if he wanted to be racist”.
He said the fireworks he had damaged were illegal.
“We can go to court, we can do it later. I don’t care what happens. The truth will set us free.”
He said he talked to everyone at the gathering very nicely, that he understood what was happening and he tried to be as calm as possible.
“We’ll let the videos speak for themselves. I was defending animals.”
Ramlall, who sits on the board of trustees, said the complex’s residents had been informed via a letter dated October 25 that the Nest Clubhouse had been booked for a fireworks display for Diwali.
He said he was embarrassed that his diplomatic guests experienced “something so traumatic”.
“They were shocked. It was the first time they ever experienced this kind of racism. We like to think we are united as a nation, that we understand each other’s cultures and traditions, but this is not the case,” said Ramlall.
Ramlall said Venter and his mother had approached his son on Monday, pleading that they do not proceed with any legal recourse.
“They apologised and begged my son to drop the case, but how can we let this rest? He blatantly swore at my children and wife, he disrespected and undermined myself and my guests. We will not take this sitting down.”