Red card for racists

The New Age (Northern Cape) - - FRONT PAGE - KEITUMETSI MOTLHALE AND NTOMBI NKOSI

LE­GAL ex­perts have de­scribed the land­mark Vicki Momberg judg­ment and sen­tence as one that will de­ter­mine how the ju­di­ciary deals with prej­u­dice re­lated mat­ters in fu­ture.

Yes­ter­day the for­mer real es­tate agent, who called po­lice of­fi­cers “kaf­fir” 48 times in 2016, was handed a three­year prison sen­tence, one of which was sus­pended, in the Rand­burg Mag­is­trate’s Court.

Momberg is the first ever per­son in South Africa to serve a jail term for us­ing a deroga­tory and racist word.

She used the word to in­sult a group of po­lice of­fi­cers who were as­sist­ing her af­ter she was the vic­tim of a smash and grab in­ci­dent in Rand­burg in 2016.

Law ex­perts said the judg­ment de­liv­ered by mag­is­trate Prav­ina Raghu­nan­dan late last year and the sen­tenc­ing im­posed yes­ter­day would be used as a ref­er­ence in many cases to come be it ho­mo­pho­bia, xeno­pho­bia or any other hate crimes.

This comes only three weeks af­ter the Cabi­net ap­proved the Preven­tion and Com­bat­ting of Hate Crime and Hate Speech Bill and sent it to Par­lia­ment for pro­cess­ing.

The bill pro­vides for the of­fence of hate crimes and the of­fence of hate speech and the pros­e­cu­tion of per­sons who com­mit such crimes. It also pro­vides for ap­pro­pri­ate sen­tences to be im­posed on per­sons who com­mit hate crime and hate speech of­fences.

KP Se­abi & As­so­ciates se­nior at­tor­ney, Ka­belo Se­abi said the Con­sti­tu­tion was clear in grant­ing ev­ery­body the right to dig­nity and pro­vides for that dig­nity to be pro­tected.

“It is to be wel­comed that in this in­stance the court has taken a brave step mak­ing sure that right is not less­ened. Hope­fully other courts will fol­low that out­come as a guid­ing prece­dent when they deal with these types of cases in the fu­ture,” Se­abi said.

The South African Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion has also wel­comed the sen­tence, say­ing it re­in­forces the judg­ment handed down in the SAHRC’s mat­ter in the Civil Court.

“Af­ter be­ing found guilty of hate speech, Momberg failed to com­ply with the Equal­ity Court or­der and the SAHRC is pur­su­ing a con­tempt of court or­der against Momberg,” the SAHRC’s Gail Smith said.

In the past, many cases taken to the Equal­ity Court have ended with a pub­lic apol­ogy and fines be­ing im­posed.

In 2008, four Univer­sity of Free State stu­dents, Roelof Mal­herbe, Schalk van der Merwe, Johnny Roberts and Danie Grob­ler forced el­derly black univer­sity staff to eat meat that had been uri­nated on. The staff mem­bers were also forced to kneel and drink beer while the stu­dents gave in­struc­tions. The mat­ter was taken to the Equal­ity Court.

The four stu­dents were ex­pelled from the in­sti­tu­tion. In 2016, for­mer South Coast es­tate agent Penny Spar­row was fined R150000 for re­fer­ring to black beach­go­ers as mon­keys.

Later that year, Matthew The­unis­sen from Cape Town was or­dered to per­form com­mu­nity ser­vice for sports de­vel­op­ment in a dis­ad­van­taged part of Cape Town as part of a set­tle­ment agree­ment af­ter he used the K-word on Face­book.

Some sim­i­lar cases that have made head­lines in­clude that of for­mer South Gaut­eng High Court judge Ma­bel Jansen who wrote on so­cial me­dia that rape was part of black cul­ture. Jansen re­signed from the bench and is is yet to face the Ju­di­cial Tri­bunal.

Last year Ve­laphi Khu­malo was taken to court by the SAHRC af­ter he posted on Face­book say­ing black South Africans must do to whites what “Hitler did to the Jews”.

An­dre Slade, a guest house owner in Sod­wana Bay, KZN, was fined R50 000 by the Equal­ity Court for hate speech af­ter he re­fused to ac­com­mo­date black peo­ple at his guest house and said they were cre­ated to be ser­vants.

How­ever, in the case of two Mpumalanga men who forced Vic­tor Mlotshwa into a cof­fin, although their acts were proven to be racially mo­ti­vated, the two men were con­victed of as­sault and sen­tenced to 11 and 15 years in prison.

Read­ing out sen­tence yes­ter­day, Raghu­nan­dan de­scribed Momberg as hav­ing been out of con­trol.

“There is a chasm be­tween re­morse and re­gret. Whether the of­fender is re­morse­ful or sim­ply feel­ing sorry for him or her­self are two dif­fer­ent things. For re­morse to be a valid con­sid­er­a­tion, the penance must be sin­cere.

“The ac­cused did not ap­pear to be re­morse­ful and to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for her ac­tions. The ac­cused was out of con­trol,” Raghu­nan­dan said.

Dur­ing ag­gra­va­tion of sen­tence, a pro­ba­tion of­fi­cer’s re­port stated that Momberg, de­spite hav­ing been found guilty in the Equal­ity Court and or­dered to pay R100 000 be­fore be­ing crim­i­nally pros­e­cuted, still did not be­lieve she had done some­thing wrong. She will re­main in jail un­til her ap­pli­ca­tion for leave to ap­peal is heard on Wed­nes­day.

The NPA has wel­comed the sen­tenc­ing with spokesper­son Phindi Mjonond­wane say­ing it had set a prece­dent for other race-re­lated cases.

THE DUTY TO ERAD­I­CATE RACISM AND ITS TEN­DEN­CIES HAS BE­COME ALL THE MORE AP­PAR­ENT, ES­SEN­TIAL AND UR­GENT NOW. FOR THIS REA­SON, NOTH­ING THAT THREAT­ENS TO TAKE US BACK TO OUR RACIST PAST SHOULD BE GLOSSED OVER.” – Mag­is­trate Prav­ina Raghu­nan­dan’s re­marks dur­ing the land­mark sen­tenc­ing of Vicki Momberg

See page 2

PIC­TURE : ROBERTTLAPU

PRIS­ONER OF HATE: Vicki Momberg paid a heavy price for her racist rants when she be­came the first per­son in SA to be sen­tenced to an ef­fec­tive prison term in the Rand­burg Mag­is­trate’s court yes­ter­day.

PIC­TURE: SCREENGRAB

STRIPPED OF DIG­NITY: White stu­dents at the Univer­sity of the Free State forced black fe­male work­ers to drink urine.

An­dre Slade and his part­ner Kather­ine

Penny Spar­row

Alpheus Mo­hale This is a good de­vel­op­ment be­cause it sets the tone for the erad­i­ca­tion of racism in the coun­try. We can’t say South Africa is demo­cratic if we have peo­ple who treat them­selves above oth­ers. It says places like Ora­nia should not ex­ist in this coun­try and I’m happy racists will think twice go­ing for­ward.”

Maseep­hephe Ma­hao The sen­tence is not enough, she could have been given at least a min­i­mum of five years im­pris­on­ment as it would serve as an ex­am­ple to other peo­ple. How­ever, it’s a good start to deal with racist cul­prits.”

Bossie Bos­set I would like to see all, in­clud­ing Malema on the stand. Dou­ble stan­dards are ap­plied. I am not con­don­ing her ac­tions but there should be con­sis­tency in the law and so­ci­ety. Many so­cial me­dia trollers are also guilty of openly de­fy­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion re­gard­ing mu­tual re­spect, hate speech and racism in the name of free­dom of speech.”

Sasha Log­a­rsperan I do think that the sen­tence is a lit­tle too harsh but am glad that the gov­ern­ment is fi­nally tak­ing racism se­ri­ously. Vicki get­ting jail time will show other racists out there that it’s not ac­cept­able. There is al­ready racial ten­sion in South Africa with­out peo­ple fuelling it with their hate­ful words.”

Sman­gele Ngubo A les­son needed to be learnt and un­for­tu­nately she was the sub­ject. Ev­ery day in South Africa you hear of yet an­other racist in­ci­dent on so­cial me­dia. Peo­ple hide be­hind their com­puter think­ing they can say what they want to oth­ers. We were promised a rain­bow na­tion but this coun­try is still far from that.”

Nathi Luthuli The norm of call­ing peo­ple the K-word and just pay­ing is over. A le­gal prece­dent has been set and that one will from now be jailed and have a crim­i­nal record. Our fore­fa­thers spent decades on Robben Is­land, were tor­tured and mur­dered by her brethren for merely ask­ing to be treated like hu­man be­ings.”

Ofentse Molefe The woman de­serves the two years pun­ish­ment and I’m happy that our courts are show­ing that we may be dif­fer­ent in the colour of our skin but no one is above the other in this coun­try. We are all equal and this ver­dict is highly wel­comed.”

Onalenna Moleko It is sad but it must be a learn­ing curve for ev­ery­one in the coun­try that we must treat each other equally. No one must be su­pe­rior to the next per­son. Even black peo­ple – the same sen­tence must ap­ply to them when they have done wrong.”

Glo­ria Masango Well I think it is un­fair for such a sen­tence. They should have or­dered her to clean some creches or old age home. Racism we know is alive and kick­ing, but sen­tenc­ing peo­ple will not re­solve the mat­ter, all races must start work­ing to­gether.”

Kgotso Seokame This judg­ment sends a good mes­sage to white racists that there is no room for dis­crim­i­na­tion against black peo­ple any more. She should have been sent to jail for the full three years though.”

Robert Timms Three years in prison? For me a sen­tence is when she does com­mu­nity ser­vice in a com­mu­nity with peo­ple from all eth­nic back­grounds. That would have achieved far bet­ter re­sults.”

Mat­shediso Man­tjie Let the racists go to jail, we do not want to ex­pe­ri­ence that in our life time since we are born frees, the coun­try needs to ex­pe­ri­ence a rain­bow na­tion not racism.”

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