Saucy photos now in hands of sheriff after court spat
IF YOU still have compromising pictures of your former lover and you are inclined to flaunt it, best you hand them back because you are not entitled to them. This was the message of two judges of the Gauteng High Court, Joburg.
In an appeal judgment, they ruled that a scorned lover who flashed about naked and other compromising pictures and videos of his former lover on social media had to hand them over to the sheriff.
In terms of the judgment, all the man’s digital devices had to be placed “in the temporary custody” of the sheriff so that a forensic expert could identify any pictures of the woman that had to be permanently deleted.
The judgment, which only refer to the woman as KS and the man as AM to protect the woman’s identity, followed an appeal by her.
She had obtained a domestic violence order against the man, in terms of which he was interdicted from abusing or contacting her. He was also interdicted from posting any explicit sexual videos or pictures of her on social media.
The order was granted in terms of Section 7 of the Domestic Violence Act.
But KS wanted the magistrate to go a step further to ensure AM had no more offending pictures of her in his possession. She wanted an expert to examine his electronic equipment to ensure any remaining pictures were deleted.
However, the magistrate was of the opinion that because he interdicted the man from publishing these images, there was no need to grant the further order. He also voiced concern that in having the sheriff search AM’s home for possible images, it would infringe on his right to privacy.
The high court heard that the couple met in 2014 and their relationship grew to a point that they had agreed to get married. It all went sour, when AM’s wife suddenly arrived at the home of KS.
KS, who said she had no idea that he was married, subsequently dumped him. AM, however, said if he could not have her no one would.
He threatened her over the phone and via text messages. He later created a fraudulent Facebook account in the name of KS and posted explicit sexual video footage and pictures of her on it.
He subsequently made telephonic threats to her, saying he could not live without her and that he knew hijackers and gangs who would harm her and her family.
KS turned to the lower court for protection, which she was partially afforded. But on appeal she argued she was not fully protected if her abuser was still in possession and control of the offending material.
Judge Edwin Molahlehi, in a judgment corroborated by Judge L Vuma, said the courts were obligated to protect women against sexual abuse. It was clear that the explicit images were of a private nature and for the enjoyment of the pair while still a couple. The judge said it could never have been their intention that the other would retain them after the relationship was over and to use them as a weapon to attack the dignity of the other.
He said the lower court had a duty to strike a balance between the interests of the two parties. “The conduct of the respondent (the man) spreads the insubordination of women in society. If not stopped in its tracks, it will undoubtedly perpetuate the threat to the self determination of women in society.”
Judge Molahlehi said the lower court should have sent a clear message to AM and other potential domestic abusers that their conduct was unacceptable. An order should have been issued which made it clear to the man and other potential abusers that they would not “get away with murder” by keeping the very material they used to hurt others.