Images by artist Zanele Muholi of friend pushed down stairs by Airbnb host spark outcry

An Airbnb host has been charged with attempted manslaughter after shocking images uploaded by South African artist / activist Zanele Muholi show the angry Amsterdam man pushing his friend, filmmaker and writer Sibahle Nkumbi , in a staircase.

The incident allegedly started because the artists were late to leave their accommodation, where they were staying in Amsterdam for Muholi’s first solo exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum, which opened last Friday.

The video shows the man pushing Nkumbi forcefully, growling “out, out, out now”, before the woman tumbles down the steep stairs of the building.

Muholi posted the video of the altercation on his Instagram account, writing: “A friend of mine / Inkanyiso the crew members were pushed downstairs by the owner of Airbnb where we stayed. He threw their things … for a few minutes of late check out. “

In an emailed statement to artnet News, David King, Director of Diversity and Membership at Airbnb, condemned the incident: “Appalling and objectionable behavior towards members of our community is going wrong. against everything Airbnb stands for. Our CEO Brian Chesky and I are reaching out to relevant guests. We will take the strongest possible measures against such heinous conduct, including banning people for life from our platform and assisting law enforcement in their investigations and possible prosecutions. No one should ever be treated like this and it will not be tolerated. “

In a video interview she did with Amsterdam-based journalist Kevin Roberson, Nkumbi explains that her attacker was the husband of the owner of the Airbnb apartment that hosted the artists.

The incident is somewhat ironic given the subject of the exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Muholi. The artist and activist presented a new series of self-portraits, which she showcased alongside her striking photographic representations of the black LGBTQI community in South Africa. Muholi’s work offers us an insider’s perspective, offering powerful imagery that confronts the complex politics of identity in the face of widespread discrimination and abuse.

As a result of this disturbing episode, Nkumbi was hospitalized, suffering from a concussion and painful bruises to his body and face. In the video interview posted to YouTube, Nkumbi describes the events leading up to the attack, revealing his suspicions that his assault was racially motivated.

“We knew we were late and we heard a bell ringing,” she described, recounting how the host was upset that the party was late to leave their accommodation. When asked for a few more minutes to pull herself together, the woman returned with her husband, said Nkumbi, who was angry. “He was knocking on the door shouting ‘Open!’ We opened the door and this guy was extremely emotional. And I tried to ask him, ‘Why are you so emotional? We are leaving, ”she said.

Nkumbi recounts how the man continued to verbally assault the group, allegedly calling them “You people”, and telling them to leave immediately, saying “This is not Africa”.

Although the man was arrested and charged with attempted manslaughter, Nkumbi expressed doubts in the video that justice will be served, fearing institutional racial bias, which may have already been revealed by the victim’s portrayal. in media coverage of events. “They said I was arguing with him when I wasn’t; I was clearly trying to reason with him so that we could leave in peace, ”she said.

Speaking passionately about the nature of racial attacks, Nkumbi explained, “The abuser always makes sure he says something vague so that if it leads to legal issues, he can’t prove anything but his body language. , his facial expression, the way he was looking at us, you weren’t looking at another human.

Responding to those who may question the racial motivations behind the attack, she said: “I guarantee you if it was a white person it would have turned out differently.”

A resigned Nkumbi then ends the video by asking “When are we going to wake up?” The people are the people. “

Watch Sibahle Nkumbi’s full interview below.

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