Despite suspension, anti-LGBTQ hate over Knysna fires continues


While the paramedic who said that LGBTQ people were to blame for the Knysna fires has been suspended by his company, others have made similar comments on social media.

Netcare 911 has confirmed that the man, who goes by the name of Bossie Boshoff (it is not clear if this is his real name), is one of its employees. He posted on Facebook last week that the fires were the wrath of God on the town because it hosts the annual Pink Loerie LGBTQ festival.

The company said in a statement that the paramedic had been suspended and was facing a disciplinary hearing. The Managing Director of Netcare 911, Craig Grindell, described Boshoff’s comments as “unacceptable”, “discriminatory” and transgressing “the company’s values, ethics and code of conduct”.

Johann van Niekerk, Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival Foundation Chairperson, applauded Netcare 911 for its “swift reaction to the employee’s inappropriate social media post”.

Van Niekerk added: “Society is built of many groups with different views. But it is the way that they treat each other, and even more so how they in public accommodate each other’s points of views with respect and dignity, that dictates their relationship.”

It’s since been reported that the paramedic has resigned rather than face a disciplinary hearing.

LGBTQ people have often been held accountable for natural disasters

Despite the man’s suspension and resignation, others remain fearless in their online bigotry. Mambaonline has been sent screenshots of more people who have made similarly homophobic comments.

A man named Pine Pienaar wrote on Facebook in Afrikaans: “So a few years ago there was flooding in Los Angeles after a big moffie (f****t) festival. Now I wonder if the Pink Loerie Festival can also be linked to the problem in Knysna…”

Andrew Bartosch responded to Pienaar: “It wouldn’t surprise me. The place is apparently riddled with moffies. Why don’t they name it the Pink Moffie Festival?”

Mambaonline has also seen another post by Hanno Visagie about the fires in which he asked: “Knysna, the Southern Cape’s capital of sodomy?”

Seven people died, 10,000 were evacuated and more than 600 formal and informal structures were destroyed in the fires along the Garden Route.

There is a long history of LGBTQ people being blamed for natural disasters around the world, including in South Africa.

In March 2015, Pastor Vincent Wienand from Revelation Ministries proclaimed that fires that devastated Cape Town at that time were due to it being “the gay city.” He added that, “God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for the very same reason.”

Later that year, Pastor Mduduzi Shembe, leader of the Ebuhleni division of the Shembe Church, said that the country’s drought was because “men are now marrying men”.

LGBTQ people have also been blamed for the Marikana Massacre, the 2014 outbreak of the Ebola virus in Liberia, and even the Boston Marathon bombings.

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