‘Black bi*ch’ and ‘ka***r’ are hurtful and harmful, court rules
Cape Town man ordered to apologise to black woman over his racial slurs - but it's unclear whether he will
The Equality Court in Muizenburg in the Western Cape has ruled that the words “black bi*ch” and “ka***r” are hurtful. Now, 66-year-old Ronald Fivelman has been ordered to give an unconditional written unconditional apology to Nomtha Macala, 37, the woman on the receiving end of those words.
In October 2017, Fivelman and Macala got into a heated argument over a parking bay outside Fivelman’s house.
According to affidavits filed in court by both parties during the two-day trial in November 2018, racial slurs were uttered by both parties.
In her court papers Macala said she was in distress after her car broke down while on her way to work and was relieved to see a parking spot. She removed the traffic cone so she could move her broken-down car from the traffic lane while waiting for roadside assistance.
The space was in front of Fivelman’s house and she said he started shouting at her and using racial slurs. “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.
In his responding affidavit, 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 was the one who was abusive towards him. He told the court that Macala shouted at him, referred to him as a “f*** rich white man”, and pointed the middle finger at him.
In her judgment last Friday, magistrate Xoliswa Ndoyana ordered Fivelman to write an apology to Macala, within 21 days of her judgment, wherein he admits using the derogatory words on Macala.
“He must detract the words whilst admitting that these words were armful, hurtful, and apologise unconditionally for their usage,” reads Ndoyana’s judgment.
The magistrate also said the use of the words by a white man to a black woman could be reasonably construed to be disparaging, derogatory and causing humiliation.
In her judgment, Ndoyana said after weighing all the evidence, her finding was that Macala’s version was more probable and true.
“The version of the respondent (Fivelman) is full of improbabilities and I have no doubt rejecting it wherever it contradicts that of the complainant (Macala),” reads the judgment.
“More than 20 years into our democracy the use of the said racial slurs could reasonably and objectively be seen as a clear intention by the respondent to be hurtful and harmful and promote hatred towards the complainant,” the magistrate said.
Macala was, however, unsuccessful in requesting that Fivelman pay her legal costs. The court ordered that both parties pay their own legal costs.
The court also turned down her request to be awarded damages.
“No evidence was placed before me by the complainant to prove financial loss or any impairment of dignity, pain and suffering or emotional or psychological suffering as a result of the hate speech. I’m therefore unable to grant an award for damages,” Ndoyana said in her judgment.
Macala’s legal representative, Darren Hannekom, said he was happy with the court’s restorative approach.
“Magistrate Ndoyana proves that our judicial system is well equipped in dealing with those who act in violation of our Constitution, which ensures the protection and promotion of equality and human dignity.”
Macala said she hoped the case taught Fivelman a lesson – to respect other people, irrespective of their race. “I feel democracy has won.”
Fivelman’s attorney, Jacqueline Rei, said she was still waiting for instructions from her client and could not comment on the judgment yet. “He has 14 days from the day the judgment was handed down to appeal it. We are still waiting for him on how to proceed and we are not sure yet if he will write the letter,” she told Times Select.