Man targeted in racist rant on Cape Town bus opens criminal case

A man has opened a case of crimen injuria after becoming the target of a racist rant on a bus to central Cape Town on Monday morning.

Odwa Ndesi, 29, a non-practicing attorney who currently works for the city council, told News24 that the offensive remarks had left him shocked.

He has laid charges at the Cape Town central police station.

Ndesi had been on an express MyCiti bus from Table View to the Cape Town Civic Centre around 07:45.

He said the bus was packed and he was squashed with a group of other passengers, including the man he later laid charges against.

"He then makes a remark to the lady next to me, saying something like, 'Can't you f***ing see there is a yellow line?'"

'I was literally shaking'

A commuter called him out for being offensive, at which point he apparently turned his attention to Ndesi.

The man was apparently complaining about being pushed. Ndesi said he asked the man what his issue was because nobody was pushing him.

"He said 'You're my issue. Your f***king black skin is my issue. You f***king prick."

Ndesi said he was shocked at the remarks and the rudeness directed towards the female commuters, but had the clarity of mind to take out his phone to ask him to repeat himself.

"He talked about someone [pointing a gun at him in the past] and this is why he hates black people. Everyone was saying you can't generalise. I was literally shaking at this point."

Jenni Evans, a News24 reporter who was in the bus at the time, said she was shocked by what she saw.

EFF rant

"It was blatant. It was unexpected. The man he offended held himself really well. He was dignified and didn't swear at him," she said.

"This man made some remarks, something about 'people of your skin colour'."

She recalled Ndesi asking the man to repeat what he had said. She also called him out.

"I said to him, 'you have just racially offended this man', because he couldn't understand what was wrong."

Evans asked if he had been paying attention to what was going on in South Africa at the moment.

"He went on a bit of a rant about the EFF, I don't know where it came from or what the context was."

The man apparently also said he had been robbed.

No excuses

In the videos taken by commuters, they can be heard taking the man on and pointing out that he had also stood on the yellow line at some point.

In the video, the man is heard saying: "And when I get attacked by these guys?"

Commuters are heard saying there is no excuse for his remarks, he should not generalise and that his behaviour is unacceptable.

"A lot of people started shouting at him and taking him on. He put his head down and started crying," said Evans.

"He apologised to the man twice. He said, 'I am sorry, I am sorry'."

At Milnerton, Evans asked him to get off the bus, which he did.

'It is not about an apology'

Ndesi said the man only said sorry when asked by someone to do so, and negated his apology by ranting immediately afterwards.

"If he was sincere, he would have said, 'man I am sorry'. But when he got off the bus "he looked me straight in the eye and said nothing to the effect".

Ndesi said his intention was not to name and shame. He also did not care about the man's background because it did not excuse his behaviour.

"I want the criminal system to take a different view. It is not about an apology or sentencing. If we are going to promote mere apologies without people understanding what they have said, then we have a long way to go."

Ndesi said decisive, intentional interventions were needed to change people's attitudes.

News24 could not immediately identify the man.

His face has been blurred in the video since there is now a criminal case against him. Suspects can only be identified once they have appeared in court.