A student was spat at and called a ‘black monkey’ on a London bus

The upper deck was full of people who did nothing

Last week Jessica Katanga, a first year medical student, was taking the bus home when she was racially abused and harassed by a young boy.

She told The Tab that when the boy became more irate, and not one bystander spoke up or intervened, she got her phone out to record what was happening.

Jessica uploaded a video of the incident to Facebook and it has since been shared over 200 times with 12,000 views and counting.


Jessica, who studies Medicine at St George’s, University of London, spoke to The Tab exclusively to share what happened:

“I got on the South West London bus, I was on the phone to my sister minding my own business. I sat down and then I felt something pull on the back of my hood, so I turned around but these two boys were just sat there. I originally dismissed it, not thinking much of it.”

“A bit after that they did it again, so I turned around and said ‘don’t touch me’, and he said ‘who’s even touching you?’.”

This was when the name-calling began: “he was throwing terms at me such as ‘sket’ and a ‘monkey with a dropped lip'”.

After the pulling and racist remarks became more frequent, Jessica then started filming him on Snapchat. “That’s when he started getting physical. He slapped me on the back of the head, and was calling me a ‘monkey’ again. All these insulting, racist remarks.”

In the video, Jessica asks: “You called me a black monkey?”. The minor replies: “Yeah, a black monkey. You are”.

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The teenage boy – who cannot be identified as he appears to be under the age of 16 – then swings again at the back of Jessica’s head.

“It was only his female friend that was telling him ‘stop, leave it, you’re going to get in trouble’. Everyone on the top deck was hearing this and didn’t do anything about it.

He then went on to say he was “going to get his sister to bang her out”, as his friend laughs along.

He then spat in Jessica’s face, before running down the stairs, and said: “Come off the bus then, I’ll fight you.”

When Jessica got down the stairs she said that people “must have thought I was making a fuss for no reason”, and it wasn’t until she said “he’s harassing me. I am being harassed” that anyone paid attention.

She claims he tried to snatch her phone as he ran off the bus.

“One white person got off the bus at the same time as me and told me that the stuff he’d said was appalling. He apologised for not saying anything.”

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Fellow commuters on the top deck of the bus remained silent throughout the incident. Two on the bottom deck along with the bus driver asked if Jessica was okay after the event had occurred.

Jessica told The Tab: “The people who defended me were on bottom deck – they weren’t present when it started – but the others who stayed silent on top deck have no excuse. It wasn’t a nice thing”.

London is one of the most diverse cities in the world, accepting people of different cultures, religions, ethnicities and anything that might make people different, as you would expect any civilised place to do.

Although this is widely believed, it would be a lie to say racism does not exist. It has existed for centuries and continues to do so on the sly despite the worldwide movements and campaigns against it.

Jessica said in posting this incident on social media, it allowed others to open up about hate crimes that they had experienced. The main thing she wanted to get across with this video is that hate crime is still occurring in London, adding that the “system” is also at fault in regards to breeding hate, bigotry and racism.