Former DA leader Helen Zille and DA MP Phumzile van Damme exchanged a few harsh words on Twitter that divided social media users on Sunday.
Van Damme took to social media last week to share that she punched a man who had been racist towards her at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.
“The family. This lady was filming me the entire time, so I tried to take photos and that little sh*t in the black T-shirt came to my face and came within my face and ‘voetsek you black’ and threw on the ground. He was threatening violence so in self-defence I punched him in the head,” said Van Damme at the time.
The V&A Waterfront later apologised to Van Damme.
It said in a statement:”We do not tolerate any act of racism at the V&A Waterfront, an environment which daily, sees thousands of visitors from all walks of life, from all over the country, and all over the world, enjoying its facilities. We would ban anyone who displays racist behaviour on the property, with immediate effect.”
But Zille said it was important for both sides of the story to be heard to “work out” exactly what happened that day.
I wish the family would come forward and give us their perspective. But I suppose that are scared of potential consequences. It is hard, in these circumstances, to work out where the truth lies.
— Helen Zille (@helenzille) June 22, 2019
Zille was responding to claims made by right-wing YouTuber Willem Petzer and shared on Twitter by @Alettaha that Van Damme was the “aggressor and architect” of the incident.
“I wish the family would come forward and give us their perspective. But I suppose that are scared of potential consequences. It is hard, in these circumstances, to work out where the truth lies,” said Zille.
Van Damme fired back and told Zille to stop “invalidating” her experience.
“Anyone with an iota of intelligence would watch Petzer’s video and laugh. You invalidate my experience. I was made to feel subhuman. I was threatened. In addition to that I must be dragged through the mud and you gladly join the mob with your 1m followers? I don’t kowtow to bullies.”
Zille still told “Phumz” all she wanted was the family’s side of the story because it was a “core” DA value.
“I didn’t attack you Phumz. Last time I looked, audi alterem partem [sic] was a core DA value. We must apply it in all cases including those that involve us,” she said.
Audi alterem partem (hear the other side) is a foundational liberal principle. It is also entrenched in our constitution and the rule of law. I am not invalidating anyone's experiences. The family must also share their's. Audi alterem partem. Simple and profound.
— Helen Zille (@helenzille) June 23, 2019
Van Damme told Zille she was in no place to lecture her on DA values and accused her of failing to uphold them herself.
And don’t talk to me about “core DA values,” I defend them all the time. You go against them all the time. We say #OneSAForAll and you complain about white voters. Last time I checked with a party for all, not for one race.
Now, I have a Sunday to see to. I’ll check later.
— Phumzile Van Damme (@zilevandamme) June 23, 2019
The two landed on the Twitter trends list on Sunday, with some calling on DA leader Mmusi Maimane to intervene. He is yet to comment on the issue.