Middelburg paper takes side of white ‘reader’ in row with black worker

A Caxton-owned local newspaper in Mpumalanga has called for actions tobe taken against a traffic officer who said a white motorist hit by ablack road painter deserved it on social media.

The Middelburg Observer described Jean-Luc Devoldere, who passers-bysaid undermined the workers while they were busy doing the road markings,as somebody who is an ‘assault victim’ after the incident and said thetraffic officer became “openly biased” towards what befell Devolderat a Middelburg town intersection.

Devoldere had forced his white bakkie into the white line which theworkers were busy marking in Beyers Naude and Meyer Streetintersection and was confronted by one angered municipal road painterin the full daylight view of on-lookers after he drove over a wetmark.

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The Middelburg Observer on Friday charged that Devoldere “accidentallydrove over the wet paint and hit a traffic cone, spurring the painterto first hit his bakkie with his paint rod, after which the painterslapped Mr Devoldere in the face when he stopped”.

“The painter continued to assault Mr Devoldere in the presence of atraffic officer. When tensions died down, and Mr Devoldere got intohis bakkie to drive away, the painter picked up a fistful of dirt andflung it at Mr Devoldere through his open window,” the paper said.

Later, another traffic cop, a Mr Kgaugele Mashele, saw the video ofthe whole incident on Observer’s Facebook page and, “was the first tocomment,” the paper said, “condoning the violence, saying Devolderedeserved to be assaulted and then referred to him as a pig,” the papersaid.

He referred to “a Middelburg Observer reader” as a fat pink pig onFacebook, the paper said.

“A reader reacted with ‘f** you’, to which warden Mashego replied,’lol, thank you, you fat pink pig’,” the paper said.

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Municipal officials said disciplinary actions will not be takenagainst Mashele because the Steve Tshwete local municpality does nothave a policy prohibiting their workers from saying things on Facebookand “since the remarks were made in a personal capacity”.

“I personally believe the insults were wrong and would advise those onthe reserving end to pertition the Equality Court and PublicProtector’s office for further assistance in the matter,” actingmunicipal manager Mandla Mnguni told the paper.

A few reacting Middelburg Observer readers commented on the story -titled “No action after ‘fat pink pig’ insult” and shared by the paperon its Facebook page, with a Billy du Plessis, in an overtly racistreference to the road marker, saying: “A sad black pig. Shame the poorthing. May it get slaughtered soon”.

(edited by MM)

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