AUSTRALIA – Premier Campbell Newman has publicly thanked heroic train guard Josphat Mkhwananzi for his professionalism and “cool head” during the vile racist rant on a Brisbane train earlier this month.
Mr Newman, alongside Transport Minister Scott Emerson, presented the 56-year-old with a certificate of recognition this afternoon for the discipline and restraint he demonstrated during the “ugly” incident on October 2.
Mr Emerson said Mr Mkhwananzi’s bosses at Securecorp had told him that if they “could copy Joe they would and put him on all our trains”.
Asked if he could forgive his alleged attacker, the security guard told reporters if the teenager was “willing to say sorry they can direct those words” to Queensland Rail.
Mr Newman also took the opportunity to thank the public for the way in which they had backed Mr Mkhwananzi in the wake of the footage going viral.
The guard was also presented with a citation from his employer, Securecorp.
Earlier, Mr Mkhwananzi blamed the poor upbringing of today’s youth for the shocking attitudes of some teens.
Speaking for the first time since a video of the attack went viral, he would not judge the actions of his accused teenage attacker Abdel-Kader Russell-Boumzar.
The 56-year-old train guard said anti-social behaviour was caused by the way children were raised.
“If you can’t teach your kids the right thing … kids are ambassadors of their families,” Mr Mkhwananzi said in an interview with The Courier-Mail.
“I can’t blame the kids, I can’t blame the government.’’
The humble hero stood between Russell-Boumzar and other passengers as he was called a “n—er” and a “black c—” and spat on during the attack which occurred earlier this month.
A video of the incident sparked a social media manhunt on the weekend after it was uploaded to the internet and labelled unAustralian.
“If you are a normal human being, you must not be pushed or pulled by the situation,’’ Mr Mkhwananzi said when asked about how he managed to remain calm.
He also played down concerns about racism and has already returned to work.
“I have never seen any other country where this is not (happening) … All countries are having their own issues.
“The Australian community are having their own issues. I’m not there to judge the Australian government or their people.”
When asked if he wanted an apology from the teenagers, he replied “I’m OK”.
“Whatever they will say, I will accept that. Whatever they will do, I will accept that — but I’m not in a position to influence somebody.’’
Mr Mkhwananzi said he was performing his “normal duties” on the train that night when he heard Russell-Boumzar yelling inappropriate language.
He approached the teenager, asking him to “mind his language” and remove his feet from the seat.
Russell-Boumzar then laid a newspaper on the seat and the guard told him it wasn’t a footrest.
“Then this man said to me, who are you to tell me what to do in my country?” Mr Mkhwananzi said.
“Then I said, my friend, regardless … if you are unhappy and want to complain, check this for numbers and call them tomorrow and make your complaint. I am here to enforce the law.”
He said that the teenager started to yell abuse at him, including calling him a “black toothless dog’’, which drew the attention of the train driver.
“He immediately stopped the train, opened his cabin and asked me what’s happening? I said, this man is abusing me and the other passengers.
“Then the train driver came and ordered the man to leave the train. I tried to say to give him three choices — leave the train, or respect the passengers, or you sit down.
“Then that man started to insult the train driver.
“I realised the people there were very angry and may punch him, so I went in between him and these other passengers, blocking these other passengers.”
He said Russell-Boumzar’s friend started to shout that police were coming and the pair fled.
As he was leaving the carriage, Mr Mkhwananzi said he was spat at a third time.
Despite the incident, Mr Mkhwananzi said he was still working as a train security guard.
Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane said Mr Mkhwananzi was “just doing his job” when he was subjected to a “withering barrage of racist abuse”.
“Like the vast majority of people, I was disgusted and appalled by this racist incident,” he said.
“It’s a reminder that racist abuse and intimidation happens and when it does happen it can get very ugly.
“No one should be subject to that kind of treatment and people should be held to account for their conduct.” The Courier Mail