Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Taxi driver subjected to racist rant calls it quits

Passenger Greg Shuttleworth apologised after his racist comments about Mr Humayun caused outrage.
Passenger Greg Shuttleworth apologised after his racist comments about Mr Humayun caused outrage.

The taxi driver racially abused in an alarming outburst caught on camera has returned to work, but the unsavoury incident has persuaded him to leave the industry.

Pakistan-born Tariq Humayun was called an "Islam p***k'' and told to "f*** off back to where you come from'' by passenger Greg Shuttleworth in Invercargill on July 26.

The Southland man escaped criminal charges for his foul-mouthed anti-Islamic tirade which was captured on video and has since gone viral.

Mr Shuttleworth has written a formal apology to Mr Humayun expressing shame for his "terrible words'' and agreed to visit the local mosque and educate himself on the religion of Islam.

The incident took its toll on Mr Humayun who stayed away from work last week. He eased his way back behind the wheel on Saturday but only on a casual, part-time basis while he seeks a change of vocation.

"The whole thing has taken a real toll on him. He's looking elsewhere for work now,'' said his boss at Invercargill Taxis, Safinah Mohammed.

"He's coping. He worked Saturday night and the public were very supportive. They were happy to see him. A lot of his regulars had been asking when he'll be back.''

Mr Humayun has had difficulty dealing with his unwanted fame, Mrs Mohammed said.

"He very much keeps to himself, and everybody knows him now. He's quite famous in Invercargill,'' she said.

"He's just trying to get out of the industry, but he can't afford to be not working, so he's come back on a part-time basis, and will help out at busy periods, and I've accepted that.''

Invercargill Taxis is planning a drivers' meeting this week to discuss safety measures, reaction times, possible training options, and talking about how to handle similar situations that arise in future.

An Indian taxi driver, injured in a brutal Tauranga attack, spoke out on Sunday to say race-based abuse is a fact of life in the taxi industry.

Tauranga Mount Taxis' driver Gurmeet Singh is still recovering from a vicious racial bashing in January that earned Jared Dixon, 18, and Tomote Manu, 19, two years nine months and three years in jail respectively.

Mr Singh's employer confirmed that clients regularly complain about being sent "towel head'' drivers.

Mrs Mohammed welcomed other drivers coming forward, and said she has had messages of support - as well as criticism - from across New Zealand since releasing the Shuttleworth video last weekend.

"It's certainly raised the issue. That's what we hoped would happen,'' she said.

Mrs Mohammed said Mr Humayun, a former Auckland driver, was glad police didn't pursue a prosecution.

Mr Shuttleworth has said he is open to meeting with the Southland Muslim Association, which has offered to meet him after Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, which ends soon.

He has been told to stay away from his work after his employer launched its own investigation.


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