Sparrow criminal matter 'complex' - prosecutor

Durban – The criminal case against Penny Sparrow is a complex one and requires consultation with a number of people, the Scottburgh Magistrate’s Court heard on Monday.

Prosecutor Ranjeni Chowthee asked for a short adjournment, saying the matter “has many complexities”. These included having to speak to a number of complainants. Twenty of them were from Umlazi.

Sparrow faces a charge of crimen injuria for her racist Facebook post in January.

The court earlier heard that Sparrow had entered into plea bargain talks. Chowthee said the State was consulting affected parties, including the complainants, about Sparrow’s letter of apology, which she wrote as part of the plea agreement.

“There are certain issues in the apology and we are requesting time to sort this out. The complainants have asked for some things to be added to the apology.”

Magistrate Vincent Hlatshwayo granted a one-hour adjournment in the interests of a speedy trial. It was the third delay in the case.

“At the same time I express my unhappiness on how things are happening. There was no proper organisation,” he said.

“The public eye is looking at us, and wants to know what’s happening and we need to be seen to know what we are doing,” he said.

In June, the Umzinto Equality Court ordered Sparrow to pay R150 000 to the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation for her racist Facebook rant. She compared blacks celebrating New Year’s day on Durban’s beaches to monkeys.

The ANC took the matter to court. Once the Equality Court case had been finalised, Sparrow was sent to the Scottburgh Magistrate’s Court to face a criminal charge.

In an interview with News24 in June, Sparrow said whites used “monkey” as a term of endearment for blacks. She said she had received threats and had gone into hiding.

“There were terrible death threats. People said they were going to bomb my house and people sent pictures of naked women and saying I was going to be raped... it was shocking,” she said.

Several South Africans have landed themselves in hot water for racist comments they made on social networks this year. They include estate agent Vicki Momberg, Capetonian Matthew Theunissen, Standard Bank economist Chris Hart and Gauteng sports, arts and culture department employee Velaphi Khumalo.

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