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Durban man found guilty of racial utterances during Diwali fined


Frank Robinson, a Durban horse trainer, has been found guilty of using racist language on Facebook during Diwali

Frank Robinson

DURBAN – Frank Robinson, a Durban horse trainer, has been found guilty of using racist language on Facebook during Diwali.

His hearing was held by the National Horseracing Authority’s (NHA) disciplinary panel on Thursday.

Robinson, 51, appeared at the inquiry with his lawyer, Mannie Witz. It was subsequently ordered that his licence be cancelled. However, the penalty was completely suspended for two years provided he did not commit the same offence within that time period. He was also fined R25 000.

In a statement, the NHA said an inquiry was held after Robinson was charged with a contravention of Rule 72.1.43. The rule refers to using language that could reasonably be construed as racist to other persons in the racing industry.

Robinson had pleaded not guilty to the charge and denied the allegations. However, after considering the evidence, the inquiry board found him guilty.

“The inquiry board imposed a penalty of a cancellation of his trainer’s licence, which is wholly-suspended for a period of two years, on condition that he is not found guilty of a similar offence during this period. In addition to this penalty, the inquiry board imposed a fine of R25 000,” said the NHA.

Robinson was given the right to appeal the ruling and the imposed penalty.

Following the Facebook post, he was placed on an interim suspension pending the finalisation of the inquiry. The suspension has now been lifted with immediate effect, which allows him to enter and declare horses to race under him.

Robinson had called those who lit big bang fireworks, “a piece of s**t race” and “childish and stupid”. His post was made during the Diwali weekend. He was allegedly responding to a Facebook post by a friend, George Croucher, which has since been deleted, on the treatment of animals.

A screenshot of the post, circulating on social media, read: “The human race has to be the most selfish species on the planet, self-gratification, no matter how it affects both domestic animals or our wildlife … ”

Robinson commented: “Agree wholeheartedly, piece of s**t race that shows how stupid and childish they are that get excited by bright lights and big bangs. Pathetic. But as per usual who gives a f… about anything.”

The post was shared over several social media platforms with many users demanding action be taken against Robinson.

Gold Circle issued a statement distancing itself from the comments and it later terminated his lease at Summerveld Training Centre in Shongweni. The NHA subsequently placed Robinson on an interim suspension with immediate effect following an inquiry into the racial allegations.

Robinson told the Post on Monday he was not happy with the verdict. He said if he was guilty then he deserved the penalties but added he was innocent and the situation misconstrued. Robinson said some of his closest friends were Indian and that he would never be disrespectful.

The matter has been taken on review.

“They charged me with a comment that is perceived to be racist because it fell on Diwali. The whole problem is once a post has been deleted, you can’t get it back. I needed the original post to be fully exonerated otherwise they think I am making stuff up.”

He said he was still trying to retrieve the original post.

“We have even phoned California, but it can take months. I am back at work at least, but I still have a bitter taste in my mouth because I know the truth.”

Robinson said he did, however, learn a lesson.

“To tell you the truth, I did go and read up a bit on the Hindu religion and found out what Diwali was. It is the Festival of Lights.”

He said he hoped people would forgive him and hopefully realise it was all a misunderstanding.

“One of the first scriptures in the Hindu religion is on forgiveness, so let’s hope people can forgive. We all just need to be tolerant and respectful. In life, you never lose, you either win or you learn.”