Police investigate racist taxi tirade

NICCI MCDOUGALL
Last updated 09:48 29/07/2013
TARIQ HUMAYUN

Warning: Explicit and offensive content. Invercargill taxi driver Tariq Humayun filmed the hail of racial abuse he was subjected to by passenger Gregory Shuttleworth.

Taxi driver Tariq Humayun
ABUSED: Taxi driver Tariq Humayun

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Police are investigating after a Pakistan-born taxi driver was victim to a torrent of racial abuse in Invercargill last week.

The abuse came from Gregory Shuttleworth and was captured on Invercargill Taxis driver Tariq Humayun's iPhone early on Friday morning. Shuttleworth has since publicly apologised.

Today, Invercargill police confirmed they were "investigating an alleged incident of racial abuse".

"The man appears to have been intoxicated at the time," Police said in a statement.

"Following the incident, the taxi driver has driven to the Invercargill Police Station and spoken to police at the counter."

Police plan to speak further with Humayun.

THE ABUSE

Shuttleworth was picked up from central Invercargill by Humayun about 1am, Friday.

Humayun said Shuttleworth had asked him where he was from. When he said Pakistan, the abuse started.

Shuttleworth told him to "f... off and go back to where you came from".

Humayan was told he did not belong in New Zealand and was "an Islam prick".

During the taxi ride Shuttleworth also told Humayun he would pay him the $7 taxi fare when "you tell me you'll piss off back to your country".

"How we let you in here has got me f..... We don't require your Muslim bull.... in this country."

Shuttleworth paid the $7 fare.

APOLOGY

Yesterday, Shuttleworth said he was regretful and remorseful for his actions.

"It's wrong, it's going to affect a lot of people and it's all my fault.

"It doesn't look good I realise ... I guess I'm regretful it ended up where it ended up."

When asked why he made the comments he said he had been watching too much television news about what had been going on overseas and he had allowed himself to vent, but it should not have happened.

He had contacted the company to apologise but they did not want to talk to him, he said.

"If you could wind back a clock it would be a great thing."

'UNSAFE AND UPSET'

A shaken Humayan, who remained calm throughout the abuse, said he did not want to return to work, adding it was the worst abuse he had been subjected to in his five years of driving taxis in Auckland and Invercargill.

He was still feeling unsafe and upset yesterday, he said.

Humayun, who emigrated to New Zealand with his family in 2002 for a better future, said he was robbed in Auckland three times while working as a taxi driver.

He said he did not want to continue driving taxis.

After the comments were made Humayun drove Shuttleworth to the police station where he continued his abuse, calling him a "piece of s..." and left. The taxi company said it planned to contact the Human Rights Commission.

Invercargill Sergeant Wing-wah Ng said police were investigating.

This type of inappropriate language and behaviour was not tolerated, especially to Humayun who was providing a service, he said.

Invercargill Taxis director Safinah Mohammed said people had been good to them but "you get the one-off person like this".

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Drivers had been subjected to racial abuse including comments relating to Muslims and bombs, she said.

"You don't swear at the religion."

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy  said the incident was "appalling".

"It's absolutely disgraceful and unfortunately it still continues here in New Zealand," she told TVNZ today.

"We still have an element of people who are extraordinarily racist."

Her office could not prosecute, but it could act to try to  "take the fear and ignorance away from people who make these ridiculous statements", Devoy said.

The passenger should know freedom of belief and religion were extremely important, and she hoped he would make some effort at reconciliation with the taxi driver.

"He should be extraordinarily ashamed of himself."

Venture Southland chief executive Paul Casson said the abuse was unfortunate, unwarranted and demonstrated a lack of understanding towards the changing workforce in the province.

- The Southland Times

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