Feature

South Africa: Where driving while black gets you shot

Racial profiling against blacks is rampant in South Africa.

Nomusa MthethwaThe Star

Racial profiling against blacks is rampant in South Africa, said Nomusa Mthethwa. It’s not supposed to be that way. The term “racial profiling” originated in majority white countries, and South Africa is majority black. But “even black police officers are guilty” of assuming that other blacks are up to no good. Just last week, the country’s most famous rapper, Khuli Chana, was mistaken for a kidnapper and shot by police. Chana—who took Best Rap Album, Male Artist of the Year, and Album of the Year at this year’s South African Music Awards—happened to drive his blue BMW to a gas station at the exact moment when police were waiting for a kidnapper to show up in a gray BMW to claim ransom money. Evidently “the color of the car became unimportant when they saw the color of the driver.” The officers opened fire, wounding Chana in the hand and back. Police should have ended their “shoot to kill” policy after the massacre of striking miners last year at Marikana. Instead, we are still seeing “black men all around the country dropping like flies in the spray of bullets released by trigger-happy fingers.” Chana, fortunately, is expected to recover fully from his officer-inflicted bullet wounds. “But there are other, unknown men who were not so lucky.”

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