Penny Sparrow ordered to pay R150k

Umzinto - The Umzinto Equality Court has ruled that controversial KwaZulu-Natal realtor Penny Sparrow must pay R150 000 to the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation for her racist comments. 

Magistrate Irfaan Khalil said the amount had to payable within 60 days and he interdicted Sparrow from further hate speech. 

Sparrow raised ire with a controversial Facebook post in which she likened black beach-goers to monkeys. 

Khalil said in his judgment on Friday: "Her words convey the message both explicitly and implicitly to the reader that black people are not worthy of being described as human beings - implicit in this is that they have lowered or sub-human intelligence."

The outrage Sparrow stirred up with the post prompted the ANC to approach the court in January.

The ruling party said it wanted to find that her utterances were racist and constituted hate speech.

Sparrow's daughter Charmaine Cowie told the court earlier on Friday that her mother was "too sick" to appear for proceedings and feared for her life. 

Last week the deputy sheriff had been unable to track her down to serve court documents.

“She’s sick with sugar diabetes. She is unable to come to court today because of the stress that this has caused. She tried to get legal counsel but no one will represent her,” Cowie said about her mother.

“I needed to come through today to make an apology and make a postponement so she can find out what she can do to apologise for the comments she made on Facebook. She can’t be present because she fears for her life."

‘She has done nothing’

Denzil Potgieter, for the ANC, said that it was clear that Cowie was in contact with her mother, and decried the delay saying that every method conceivable had been used to try and serve papers on Sparrow. 

“She has done nothing to approach the court and indicate what her attitude is towards the matter. This is not the conduct of a reasonable person who seriously intends to do something about this matter,” he said.  

“She [Cowie] says her mother wants to find a way to apologise, and that is one of the items sought in relief of this matter, that she [Sparrow] will never engage in this detestable conduct again."

He said it appears that there was nothing Sparrow wanted to add to the merits of the case. 

"She [Cowie] says the respondent fears for her life, does this mean she will never come to court?" Potgieter asked. 

“This is a serious matter and there is no basis to delay it any further. There is a considerable public interest in this matter and it is in the interest of justice and of the public that it is disposed of."

Khalil then made an order that the matter would proceed in the absence of Sparrow.

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