20.07.2006 Africa

Outrage at racist ringtone in SA

By bbc
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A racist mobile phone ringtone has been condemned by South Africa authorities in the city of Cape Town.

The lyrics are in Afrikaans and advocate violence against black people in derogatory terms.

Lionel Louw, chief of staff in the office of the premier of the Western Cape, said the originator of the ringtone could face prosecution.

But it may be difficult to trace the culprit as the file has been distributed via wireless technology.

According to a computer engineer, such technology makes it possible for any computer user to record any type of ringtone.

If the file is distributed via Bluetooth it is very hard to trace especially if the user clears the activity logs.

Blatantly racist

The lyrics of the song, according to a local newspaper, refer to a black person as a "kaffir" - an outlawed and derogatory term in South Africa.

It describes how such a person should be tied to the back of a pickup truck and dragged around while driving.

The chorus has a blatantly racist tone and ends with a call to set dogs on the black person.

Some people, amused at the lyrics, have passed it on via wireless technology.

But it has outraged a growing number of South Africans, including human rights activists, since its existence has become public knowledge.

Dr Lionel Louw, chief of staff for the Office of the Premier in the Western Cape and representative of the Moral Regeneration Movement, said: "The Office of the Premier roundly condemns this ringtone that is circulating.

"The form of behaviour reflected in the ringtone is criminal and its perpetrators will feel the full might of the law." "It is a minority who participate in promoting this, and such views are not the reflection of the majority."

Given South Africa's painful past of racial conflict and discrimination, the existence of such offensive lyrics should be a cause for concern.

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