The South African photographer and activist Zanele Muholi has been left “enraged” after a member of her crew was hospitalised last week following an alleged racist attack in Amsterdam.
In a statement released by the artist, she says that her colleague and fellow artist Sibahle Nkumbi was pushed down the stairs and “almost killed” by a man in what she describes as an attack “motivated by racism, sexism and xenophobia”. The attack came to light when videos of the altercation were posted by Muholi on Facebook and Instagram.
The incident took place at accommodation arranged for the artist and her team by the Stedelijk Museum through the company Airbnb. The group were in Amsterdam for the opening of Muholi’s first solo exhibition in the Netherlands (until 15 October).
According to Muholi, the owner of the accommodation arrived close to their time of check out and demanded that the team leave immediately. After escalating verbal and physical abuse, the man reportedly pushed Nkumbi down the stairs. She is said to have suffered internal injuries and bruising but has now been released from hospital.
The artist and her team also claim that the attacker made racist comments, including “This is not Africa”. Muholi says: “For me it is clear that this was an act of gender-based racist violence—a tall white man aggressively pushing a black female he perceived as lesser than himself, no different perhaps than the bags he first threw down the stairs.” Muholi and her team have now returned to South African and the alleged attacker has been arrested and charged with attempted manslaughter.
“Nobody should ever be treated like this and it will not be tolerated," says David King, Airbnb’s director for diversity and belonging in a statement. “We will take the strongest actions we can against such abhorrent conduct, including banning people for life from our platform and assisting law enforcement with their investigation and potential prosecution," he adds.