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Racism directed at women charged with coronavirus border fraud ostracises African Australians

The barrage of racist social media comments directed at the three women at the centre of Queensland’s coronavirus controversy has prompted a member of Brisbane’s African Australian community to speak out.

The women, two 21-year-olds and a 19-year-old, have been charged with fraud and lying to health officials to evade quarantine.

Two of the three have since tested positive for COVID-19.

Police are investigating whether the young women were coached by an organised crime syndicate to cover their tracks at the border.

African Australian woman Fortune Ruzvidzo said the women did not represent the community and public focus on race was not helpful.

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“It has been a very racially charged conversation, instead of the focus being on the health of Queenslanders,” she told ABC Radio Brisbane.

“When their faces were put out there and everyone could see that clearly these woman were African … there were a lot of racial comments that were put out there.

“People were expressing their anger, rightfully, but then they started attacking who they were and speaking of deporting them and things like that.”

An African Australian woman poses a photo with her arms wrapped around her waist.
Ms Ruzvidzo says the racially charged comments are an attack on the whole African Australian community.(Supplied: Fortune Ruzvidzo)

The identity of two of the women was revealed by News Corp newspapers before they had been charged by police, and subsequent republication in the media is the subject of robust discussion across social media.

Member for Rankin and Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers said he was concerned about further ramifications.

“The argument is that in doing that [publishing the women’s identity] it is a deterrent for people doing the wrong thing,” he said.

“But what worries me about that is that we don’t want that to be a deterrent to people getting tested.

“Hopefully that publication of those women’s names and photos doesn’t get in the way of that.”

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