South African police have charged one man with attempted murder and two others with assault after attacking Black teenagers trying to use a swimming pool while on vacation on Christmas Day in South Africa, reports the New York Times. The altercation occurred at a resort in Bloemfontein, a city about four hours south of Johannesburg.
Footage of the incident has circulated widely on social media showing what appears to be a white man choking and slapping a Black teen in the face. Then, he put the other teen in a headlock and tried to push him underwater.
By the time law enforcement arrived at the resort, the alleged attackers had already left the premises. Per the police report an eyewitness told the officers that two teenagers had been assaulted by a group of white men over usage of the swimming pool.
One of the victims, 18 year-old Kgokong Nakedi, stated that he and his 13-year-old relative were first verbally harassed as they sought to use the pool and were told that the pool was for “whites only.” Afterward, they were physically assaulted.
“They harassed us because we are Black,” Nakedi said. “They said we were not allowed to swim in the pool because it is for Whites only.”
“My main concern was the safety of my younger brother in this situation,” he added.
The first suspect, whose identity has not been released, is due to appear in court Thursday to face a charge of attempted murder. Two other suspects, Johan Nel, 33, and Jan Stephanus van der Westhuizen, 47, face charges that include "common assault and 'crimen injuria,'" which consists of “unlawfully and intentionally impairing the dignity or privacy of another person.” They have already appeared in court.
The incident is reminiscent of South Africa’s history of apartheid, a white supremacist system of racial segregation that ruled South Africa from 1948 to 1994.
On Tuesday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa released a statement imploring the country to unite against the evil forces of racism.
“As Black and white South Africans, we should be united in condemning all manifestations of racism and attempts to explain or defend such crimes,” his statement read. “It is deplorable that adults dealing with teenagers resort to violence with such disturbing ease.”
“It is deplorable that adults dealing with teenagers resort to violence with such disturbing ease, hurting people physically and offending provisions in our Bill of Rights around the security of the person, including the right to dignity and being free of violence," he continued. "Under the rule of law, we must let investigations take their course but under the rule of law we can and must also declare that racism has no place in our society and racists have no place to hide."