Migrant was ‘severely humiliated’ on a bus
Expat witnessed Arriva employees shouting abuse at African passenger
The African man who was dragged off a bus by two Arriva employees was scared and humiliated, a witness has told The Sunday Times of Malta.
Malicia Dabrowicz, a 33-year-old Polish expat, was returning home to St Julian’s when she heard the “threatening voice” of an Arriva employee, verbally abusing a passenger in the back compartment of a bendy bus travelling along route 13 towards Paceville.
Arriva said last Thursday it was carrying out an internal investigation following media reports that an African man was dragged off a bus and insulted by inspectors.
The employee, a stocky man with “an aggressive disposition”, hurled insults at the petrified immigrant, according to the witness.
“Everyone on the bus was scared. I saw one controller dragging the man to the front of the bus by his clothes, while the second stared the other passengers down,” the witness told this newspaper.
An Arriva spokesman said CCTV footage indicated there was no physical contact between the two parties at any point and the passenger got off the bus of his own accord after being asked to leave.
Ms Dabrowicz insisted that although the passenger had not been “punched square in the face” he was threatened and “severely humiliated”.
“This was character assassination of a racial kind” she said.
Ms Dabrowicz said the altercation began when the employee, a ticket inspector, believed the passenger’s travel card was invalid and demanded he produce a receipt for the card that was purchased a few days earlier.
“How many people keep the receipt?” Ms Dabrowicz exclaimed.
She said the employee went on to hurl insults at the immigrant, repeating the phrase “go home, black!” as the bus came to a halt at a bus stop along Tower Road in Sliema.
The passengers were locked in the bus for some 20 minutes while the driver and the two ticket inspectors discussed what to do with the “terrified” passenger.
“The driver wouldn’t open the doors. It was only when I told him I was claustrophobic that he eventually relented. I heard the shouting ringing in my ears all night, ‘klandestin, klandestin’,” she said.
The witness explained how the employees continued threatening the passenger until Ms Dabrowicz said she would record the abuse using her mobile phone if they did not stop.
“Then they started to calm down and even tried to play the victims. It was disgusting” Ms Dabrowicz said.
An Arriva spokesman did not respond to questions about the company’s internal investigation, but maintained that no violence had occurred, as backed up by CCTV footage.
“CCTV is CCTV, you can’t argue with it” the spokesman said.
Ms Dabrowicz feels the best remedy for the aggressors would be a racial awareness course, though she disagrees with terminating their job.
“This will show the company is committed to solving the problem, firing them won’t change anything, and we desperately need a change,” she said.
Efforts to track down the migrant in question proved fruitless.