How a parking space spat turned into a k-word court row
Cape Town woman says racial slurs started when she moved a traffic cone to park her broken-down car
A spat over a parking space in a residential area of Muizenberg in the Western Cape quickly turned into a war of racial slurs which ended up in the Equality Court.
When 37-year-old Nomtha Macala’s car broke down in October 2017 while on her way to work, the only space she could see in the street was a parking bay with a traffic cone on it.
“There was a cone and I removed it and parked my car there so that I could make calls to have my car towed,” Macala explained.
The space was in front of a house whose owner, Ronald Leslie Fivelman, allegedly started shouting at her, using racial slurs, she alleged in court papers.
“He called me a k****r and a black b*tch. I tried to explain to him why I removed the cone but he didn’t want to listen and carried on with his verbal attack on me,” Macala explained.
According to Macala, a traffic officer witnessed the incident and unseccessfully tried to mediate.
In his responding affidavit filed in court, Fivelman denied allegations against him. “My religious faith and background are such that I am extremely sensitive towards racial slurs and insults. I repeat, I have never used them,” he wrote.
According to his version, Macala is in fact the one who was abusive towards him.
Macala said she registered a complaint of hate speech with the Equality Court, hoping that Fivelman would recognise his mistake and admit what he said was wrong.
The case was heard on November 6, with Macala and Fivelman both testifying before magistrate Xoliswa Ndoyana.
Macala said both parties had tried to settle the matter out of court. “I wanted him to give me an unconditional apology and also that he do community service in a black community.”
She pointed out that Fivelman did give a written apology, but said she could not accept it because he failed to acknowledge the racial slurs he used.
“I felt the apology was not sincere and didn’t come from a place of empathy.”
Macala’s legal representative, Darren Hanekom, said Macala was strong and resolute in her version she presented in court.
In his responding affidavit, Fivelman said: “She conveyed repeatedly via the use of the middle finger of her right hand an abusive message towards me, and stood in the street and screamed loudly that I was a ‘f****** rich white man.”
“On the day in question, the complainant (Macala) was clearly very stressed by the fact that her car had broken down. I did nothing more than indicate to her that I wished to utilise a parking bay as I was loading a trailer, and furthermore offered to assist her as it was clear to me that her car had broken down,” the affidavit states.
The 66-year-old said in his statement that in his business career that employed close to 800 people, most of whom were black, he never had any complaint laid against him that suggested that he had a racist behaviour.
He also pointed that he has for some time been supporting a community soup kitchen in Khayelitsha, which he never would have done if he were a racist.
Jacqueline Rei, representing Fivelman, said they would not comment at this stage because the matter is still sub judice.
The trial will continue on November 29 when both parties will present closing arguments.
Department of Justice spokesperson Steve Mahlangu said anyone may approach the Equality Court when they feel they have been unfairly discriminated against, harassed or subjected to hate speech by either state officials or private individuals or institutions. Mahlangu said that during 2016/17 more than 20% of the 480 cases reported to the Equality Court were for hate speech (which includes racial slurs).