Saucy pho­tos now in hands of sher­iff af­ter court spat

Pretoria News - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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