Xenophobia: How South African police assaulted me — Ex-BBA housemate, Tayo Faniran

Tayo Faniran
Tayo Faniran

A former Big Brother Africa housemate, Tayo Faniran, was recently assaulted by the South African police. The reality TV star captured the incident live on his Instagram page when it occurred.

The model cum singer revealed he was handcuffed and beaten up during the encounter. He narrates the incident during an in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES.

PT: Can you narrate the circumstances that led to your being assaulted by the South African police on Friday?

TAYO: I was driving to a shoot with two of my camera crew guys and we had our cameras with us in the car. The police saw my car and pulled me over. They asked to check my car and we all came out of the car.

They asked for my phone and I said, “I can’t give you my phone. What reason do you have to check my phone? Can you stop everybody driving and ask for their phones”? He told me that if I can’t drop my phone, I’ll drop it at the police station. Then I told them to take me to the police station. He ordered me to the back of the van and I asked why I should get to the back since I’m not a criminal?

PT: What happened next?

TAYO: I insisted that if I must follow them to the station I’ll drive while the police sit at the front of my car. I thought I was going to go through the counter. The policeman told me that I can’t drive my car and that if I don’t cooperate, he was going to do it forcefully. The only thing I could do at that point to save my life was to go live on Instagram, so I could have people come for me. That was when I started making the video, by the time I was making the video, they called for backup and it came.

They beat the hell out of me, they beat me so much, put two handcuffs on me, and I had bruises and all. My clothes were torn; it was a case of pure bullying and molestation.

When we got to the police station, they didn’t take me through the counter, they took me through the back cell and beatings continued.

PT: Was the matter charged to court?

TAYO: I was at the court, I don’t know what the way forward yet but I’m sitting here waiting.

They said I was obstructing police duties and common assault. Obstruction of police duties would mean that they wanted to arrest me but I refused to arrest. You stop me on the road, you didn’t find anything on me, you want to check my phone and I said no I’m not comfortable dropping my phone at the roadside, with a police van that was not branded. On the assault too, I was handcuffed, everybody could see as I was on live video on Instagram. That was the same time the beating started.

PT: Is the Nigerian consular general aware of the incident?

TAYO: Mrs. Abike Dabiri is working with the Nigerian consular general and he later reached out to me. I had a meeting with the consular general and they assured me and said they are willing to fight for me. They want to take the case further but, the reason why I’m skeptical about continuing the court case in a country where I live in is because of my security. I don’t want anybody to be fired, I don’t want them to lose their job; they have families to feed and I cannot provide for them.

Also, I cannot preach love by demonstrating anger and hatred. I want to show them love and say I’ve forgiven them for what they have done to me.

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I just want them to be embarrassed for their actions and if they can listen to me and I’m able to educate them just for a minute. This way probably they will learn and join me on this race of uniting Africa, of bringing love and peace to the continent.

PT: Do you think it’s a case of Xenophobia?

TAYO: It is a xenophobic case because when police touch you in this country, the moment they discover you are a Nigerian, the way you are spoken to, you can feel that element of bullying and oppression. They talk to you like you’re an animal. It’s a xenophobic case and it’s too rampant in this country.

I don’t want to blame these people attacking people, I blame the system that does not inform people rightly. There is no billboard saying no to xenophobia in South Africa. That is why I founded my pan Africanism movement under the umbrella of my pan African brand, Oduduwa.

PT: Tell us more about your pan-African initiative?

TAYO: I’ve been granting a series of interviews, producing documentaries and having open discussions on xenophobia here in South Africa. My first song was also about xenophobia and this is because it is something that has always affected me.

PT: How long have you lived in South Africa?

TAYO: I’ve lived in South Africa since 2008 and I love this country so much; it is a country where I suffered before I made it. So the same love I found here as a second home is still in me, I don’t want to have the xenophobic stigma any longer. I want to work with the South African government to make sure we get rid of xenophobia because it’s a bad stigma.

PT: What do you do for a living in South Africa?

TAYO: I am a model, actor, and singer. I will not stop my government from fighting for me which is what they are bent on doing for me. It is also good for the image of the Nigerian government because it tells our youths that our lives matter to them. It shows that they care about us and they will defend us especially when we are right standing or haven’t committed any crime.

If I make police my enemy, what is the guarantee for my security?

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