In a nation that prides itself on democracy, equality and tolerance, it is shocking when a family is publically threatened by having racist and violent remarks spray painted across the front walls of their home for the entire neighbourhood to see. This is the dim reality of a mentally ill woman, Ricky, and her family.
Ricky, who has lived in her Ottery home for eight years, could not describe the disgust she felt when opening her front door last Thursday morning, and finding ‘Wit Poes’ scrawled across her walls. “I felt awful. My heart just sank. I didn’t know what to do. I just stood there in shock,” she says, holding back tears.
She explained that in the past there have been other incidents, which led her to believe that her family was somehow ‘targeted’. “When we first moved in, someone set our garage on fire. There were also times when our car got broken in to. We didn’t think anything of those incidents as crime happens everywhere. But this writing makes me think that we have enemies,” says Ricky.
Ricky is convinced that their neighbours are the ones targeting them. She added: “We are targets because we’re white in a predominately Muslim area. They often make loud noises on purpose, knowing that my husband has a nervous problem.”
Her neighbour Ibrahim Jappie, however, said that Ricky’s husband has been a problem in the area ever since they moved in. “There have been a lot of grievances with them [Ricky’s family]. Her husband constantly calls the police for no reason. If you hoot or knock on your own door too loudly, he calls the police on you because he wants to sleep. I don’t know who did that to their house but I do know that a lot of the neighbours are not fond of them.”
According to another neighbour, Dave Dupisani, Ricky and her family have never been a problem. “I think that the attack was racially motivated.” Dupisani expressed his disgust as he pointed at the words ‘Wit nai vrek’. “That is completely unnecessary. These people don’t do anything to anybody. Why do this to them?”
Another neighbour said that the incident was not racially but personally motivated. “There are people in the area who want that plot. They’re probably trying to drive them away”, he explained.