Racist tweets: Models reach agreement

2012-11-02 21:02
Democratic Alliance national spokesperson Mmusi Maimane is seen with models Jessica Dos Santos and Tshidi Thamana for talks in Johannesburg. (Picture: Sapa)

Democratic Alliance national spokesperson Mmusi Maimane is seen with models Jessica Dos Santos and Tshidi Thamana for talks in Johannesburg. (Picture: Sapa)

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Johannesburg - Two female models criticised for tweeting racist comments in May have reached a settlement agreement with the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

"The comments were accepted as constituting hate speech by the parties," the commission said in a statement.

"In terms of the agreement, the respondents made a public apology to the complainants, the commission, and the public."

On 3 May, Jessica Leandra dos Santos told her 2591 twitter followers: "Just, well took on an arrogant and disrespectful kaffir inside Spar. Should have punched him, should have [sic]."

Dos Santos, who was men's magazine FHM model of the year in 2011, later deleted the controversial tweet and posted an apology on her blog jessicaleandra.com.

FHM disowned her and stripped her of her title. One of her sponsors, QuickTrim, which makes weight-loss products, dropped her, while hundreds of people sent messages on Twitter expressing their dismay.

In response to this on 7 May, fellow model Tshidi Thamana tweeted: "Dear Mr Peter Mokaba, I wish all whites had been killed when you sang 'Kill the Boer', then we wouldn't have to experience @JessicaLeandra's racism."

Thamana's tweet also drew widespread condemnation. It was later removed from the social networking site, although she initially defended herself:

"Dear all... Why do people think I am a racist when I said it was wrong to be racist SMH [shaking my head]... Really!" she tweeted.

The SAHRC received 73 complaints over the two's tweets.

The agreement between the two was reached on 27 September.

In a written statement, Thamana said: "I... hereby tender my summary and unequivocal apology to the public, the commission, and complainants who were adversely hurt and offended by the statements made by myself in the manner described in this report.

"I therefore truly and genuinely apologise for making such statements."

She accepted the commission's recommendations and said she would not conduct herself "in a manner associated with hate and hurtful speech or racism".

The SAHRC said Dos Santos "provided a similar written undertaking".

It said the common thread in the 73 complaints lodged against the two was that the tweets amounted to hate speech.

"The commission hopes that this agreement encourages both the youth and society at large to take conscious steps toward nation building, respect for the Constitution, the rights of others, [and] tolerance and respect for diversity," it said.

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