From rage to reconciliation: 'I would do it all over again'
Paarl road rage victim who washed his assailant's feet says he has no regrets
A Paarl man who was involved in a road rage incident last year, during which he was insulted and allegedly called “a hotnot”, has no regrets after going through a reconciliation process with his assailant.
“When I look back, I don’t regret taking the path of reconciliation. I would do it over again,” Egan Vorster, 26, told Times Select.
“The reason why is because when you spend time on social media, you see only the ugly side of our country. When it comes to racial issues you only see only conflict. You don’t see enough reconciliation. And reconciliation is fundamental to our success as country and in our lives.”Vorster was embroiled in a road rage incident last September when Marius Geldenhuys accused him of not maintaining the correct following distance while driving down a busy road in Paarl.Vorster recorded a video of Geldenhuys, who approached Vorster with a pick handle and hurled insults at him.
In the video, which was posted on Facebook, Geldenhuys screams at Vortser: “Ek sal jou f****n dood bliksem‚ jy ry soos n p**s”, which translates to “I will f****g beat you to death. You drive like a c**t.” Geldenhuys also allegedly called him a hotnot.
The video went viral but a few days later the two reconciled in a feet-washing ceremony at Geldenhuys’s workplace.
At the time, Vorster said Geldenhuys was having a rough time after losing his job and going through a divorce. When they met to reconcile, Geldenhuys was in tears.
“I felt it was a good opportunity to use the same medium [video] to portray something a lot more powerful. The most powerful form of reconciliation I could think of at the time was washing each other’s feet.”The two have not kept in contact since the incident and Vorster said: “Whether he was genuinely sorry or not, it’s his challenge.
“Forgiveness is a difficult thing because you have to keep doing it. You have to remind yourself that it’s over now.”
He said he thinks most people are forgiving and want to integrate, although it may be on different levels.
“I think there are few people who are blatantly racist. And they are now being exposed. I’ve seen too many people integrating with each other to believe we haven’t made any progress.”He warns that with social media people may fall into the trap of looking only at things from one angle.
“It takes one share and 1,000 people have seen it. A second share and 10,000 people have seen it. A third and 100,000, and so it goes.”
He believes some political parties may be “levering the hurts and pain of previously disadvantaged people and making insane promises and taking advantage of the sensitivity of the matter. They have extreme behaviour and extreme messages being sent, like kill the boer. It’s an ugly cycle because then there is a reaction from white people who say these guys are savages. They come back and say: ‘How dare you call us savages?’ There’s no middle ground.”
While Vorster may preach forgiveness and reconciliation, he does believe a line must be drawn somewhere. When it comes to Vicki Momberg, he feels she used the k-word as a weapon.“If you don’t draw a line somewhere, people take chances. Does she [Momberg] deserve two years? I don’t know, but if you ignore it you are basically condoning it. And then you see perpetuation of that behaviour and that’s what we don’t want.
“She didn’t make a mistake there. She used the k-word 48 times. She was deliberately trying to dehumanise the guys [police officers] as much as she could.”
Vorster is hopeful about the future of South Africa.
“It might get worse before it gets better, but it will get better. It's only been about 25 years since the end of apartheid and that’s a short amount of time; 25 years from now things will look a lot different. I still believe there is hope.”
Attempts by Times Select to reach Geldenhuys were unsuccessful.