Jail risk with online racist comments

2012-04-02 12:55

Cape Town - South Africans who are found making racist comments on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook can be jailed.

This is according to law firm Webber Wentzel, IOL reported.

The law firm's social media lawyer Emma Sadleir said that South Africans who post racist and offensive comments (also known as Cyber-smearing) via social networks could be charged with crimen injuria or hate speech.

The issue of racism on social networks came to the forefront this week when British student Liam Stacey was sentenced to 56 days in prison following racist comments on Twitter.

Stacey caused revulsion by reacting to Fabrice Muamba's mid-game collapse by writing: "LOL, f*** Muamba. He's dead!!! #haha." He responded to criticism of that message with vile racist tweets.

Hate speech

Sadleir said that comments posted on Facebook or Twitter are treated in exactly the same way as comments made in any other public forum, be it on TV or radio, in a newspaper or in public discourse.

"The first and most noticeable is that people do things and say things in the online world that they would never do or say in the real world. People hide behind what they think is the anonymity of the internet to say things they would never say in the real world."

She added that a racist tweeter in SA could be charged with crimen injuria or hate speech as defined in the Constitution.

Social media experts have said that users of networks like Facebook and Twitter have to be "sensible".

"I think that social media users need to wise up a little; they need to become a little bit more sensible as digital citizens," social media consultant for Afrosocialmedia Samantha Fleming told News24.

But users continue to expose themselves to personal risk by posting content to their social networks without considering the wider impact it might have.

Recently, a senior official at the Civil Aviation Authority was suspended over negative comments he wrote about superiors on Facebook.

In SA, though, there have not been cases where anyone has been charged for social media violations.

  • nieljoubert - 2012-04-02 13:10

    I wonder how many people commenting on news24 articles will get jailed... It always turns into a racial debate, even if it is about someone that committed suicide.

  • ndyeboreginaldmazawule - 2012-04-02 13:29

    Well people will jst xpress their racism public like tht KZN woman nd thy won't be jailed yes. But d it on social networks nd u gone. And one jail 4 us news24 followrz.

      Jaco - 2012-07-16 12:48

      Again in English please.

  • Deirdre - 2012-04-02 13:32

    @ Nieljoubert - that's such a racist comment ... nothing on NEWS24 is just black and white!!!

  • Michael - 2012-04-02 13:39

    Whahahahahaha ag please I wane see it before I believe it realy damn funny !!!!!!!!!

  • sarah.bouttell - 2012-04-02 13:40

    It will only take one or two cases to be tried, and people will grow up quickly, and learn to think before they blurt out mean/racist/defamatory garbage.

  • kaMazibuko - 2012-04-02 13:41

    is this the end of news24 as we know it ?

  • Rvn - 2012-04-02 13:51

    so where do we go to report these racist comments?

  • dewaldj - 2012-04-02 13:52

    isnt what i say on a social network my own business? i mean im against rasism but what i say on a social platform is non of anyone's business. i mean the servers are not even located in SA. once again, focus on putting the rapists and thieves in jail...oh wait of we get rid of the thieves then we wont have a government

      kaMazibuko - 2012-04-02 13:55

      It is your business but as soon as u start insulting people either on racist grounds, gender etc ure violating another person's constitutional rights.

      berthram - 2012-04-02 15:00

      The moment u say/use "social network" it's not only for your eyes. It states social so it's others too. Especially Twitter. Funny thing racism/hate speech. It invokes anger in more than just the writer and can accelerate anger to become more than just words, especially on social(public) networks.

      sven.gohre - 2012-04-02 15:09

      @kaMazibuko, I hear nothing but a persons' Constitutional Rights, when am I going to hear about the RESPONSIBILITIES that come with these rights? Racism as defined by Google. racĀ·ism noun /'ra?siz?m/ The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief. Nowhere does it include using words that insult, hurt, are derogatory or are demeaning. Calling someone an idiot, fool, skank, moron, bastard, F@*K-Face, Boer or the K-word is not racism. All it does is show the up the person using these insults as a person with a limited vocabulary and without any breeding. What it does not do is make the person a Racist. It is only those that have no self esteem, pride or self assurance that would take any of these insults as being racist. If a person perceives them-self as being inferior, it is not the other persons fault, but a failing in the person that takes an insult as demeaning in such a way as to believe that the insult was in any way racist. It is time people ignored insults and believed in their own self-worth. Racism can only exist if their are people that feel inferior to others. Remove that inferior belief and racism cannot exist at all.

      berthram - 2012-04-02 15:30

      @PeggySven: tx for the definition of racism, though I have to add my 2cents. In an ideal world people could just switch off their minds to derogatory words like the ones u listed. Unfortunately we are far from that perfect world and the human element that is us is built to think. And that is why these words have consequences. They attack on a personal level. They insult and downright degrade a pesrons personal integrity. Call a person (woman, man, whoever) stupid and dumb and idiot long enough and it will start eating away at their self image. Where does one draw the line? A man/woman can be metally abused for years and his/her personality will erode and he/she will become (in his/her mind) worthless. Does this not happen in racism too? Does racism not gnaw at the subconscious? I believe it does, and it is wrong to make a person believe he/she is worth less than what it actually is. Just my opinion.

  • Stephen - 2012-04-02 14:03

    If I can't banter and parry with my opposites on topics of the day then whats the point of having a site like News 24. We all have different opinions and even though different we believe in freedom of speech. What's next?

  • justin.pretorius - 2012-04-02 14:04

    Another April Fools'?

  • angus.westley - 2012-04-02 14:06

    Can racist comments only be made about black people?

      VWhitepaw - 2012-04-02 14:44

      Was wondering the same thing... It appears the consensus in SA is that rasism is when a black person is called a slang name. I other words, you could call any other color any slang name and that's ok. But don't dare call a black a..... Regardless if you meant it as degrading or not. Don't even look funny at them. Having said that. I know some blacks laughs at all the apparent racism charges going around. They agree its childish at times. Conclusion. Its some people that needs to get a clue. Not everything revolves around the color of a skin. I'm tired of stuff like this. ps... Those that scream the hardest about this, didn't even really live in the time of apartheid. They just like Malema, trying to fight a war that was already won.

  • Kevin - 2012-04-02 15:11

    Yeah criminalize speech .. what next, get killed or beaten up for speaking badly about the president ? Seriously.. WTF the puppets in the law should grow the f*ck up.

  • Sharon - 2012-04-02 15:21

    ok so when will zuma be goin to jail for singing shoot the boer on youtube,that is being racist and he is supposed to be our countries president, if it can happen to us then the same should go for him!!!!! follow this link to hear for yourself.....

  • Timothy - 2012-04-02 15:27

    weak sensationalist article. surely they would have to first of all prove that it was you who wrote the comment... what are the possibilities of your account being hacked, or you leaving you computer station open and a colleague, co-worker or a random at an internet cafe says something using your account.

  • LouisBok - 2012-04-02 16:18

    WHITE POWER!! Ag I meant bbbee affirmative action quotas absa

  • Alfred - 2012-04-02 17:13

    Another pie in the sky law amongst many others designed to make SA a paradise. But how many people do we have who are willing, capable and competent enough to enforce them? My guess is precious few. But hey, since our law enforcement has those pesky little issues of rape, robbery and murder so well under control it would be a great idea to redirect their efforts to the heinous crimes of trolling the interwebs. I would gladly deal with a racist telling me exactly what he thinks of me than have this kind of politically correct libtard garbage rammed down my throat.

  • Niel.Kal - 2012-04-02 17:20

    Die vuur brand nader....

  • valcooperRSA - 2012-04-02 19:03

    Was wondering how long it would take for the threats to start....Oh well... I can't imagine what jails they will use....mmmmm......jails already they want to fill them with people who make comments on their social networks.....Free food in tv licence to pay...sounds like a score to me

  • werner.smidt - 2012-04-03 08:08

    Hmm. This was pretty interesting..

  • kim.ekorb - 2012-04-03 08:19

    when the ANC led South African government removes all forms of racist laws & policies, Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), affirmative action, yes this is racist, then maybe the public in general will start reducing the use of social networks for venting their frustrations. We are nearly 2 decades into our new democracy & these policies have proved detrimental to the majority of South Africans, a relatively small group of the "comrades" (this includes some whites) have benefited from these awful demoralising laws which have cause a massive "brain drain" in our beloved country which has been a massive setback for future development.

  • Chris - 2012-04-03 09:43

    I am a white person and black people are always swearing at me. They must hate me or something. But these no worried look in my eyes. (Tit for Tat)Hehe

      wethu - 2012-04-03 13:32

      agg shame!!!

  • Neville - 2012-04-06 12:30

    What a load of crap!!!!!. It's okay when people like Malema says racist things in public and just get rapped on the knuckles and kicked out of the ANCYL, but oh no, when a white person says something, all hell breaks loose. I think the current government should rather spend more money and time in stamping out corruption etc to gain the respect of the nation. First take public figures to task who incite this kind of behaviour before striking out at the general public.

  • vanzyld - 2012-05-23 21:03

    lol. this is classic. where does domicilium citandi et executandi reside? Is there such as thing as ZA cyberspace?

  • vanzyld - 2012-05-23 21:07

    What about the principle underpinning habeas corpus? lol Who posted?

  • andre.kruger.71216 - 2012-07-27 16:41

    Bear in mind that only Caucasians have so far evolved the ability to be racist. Any other race remains free to say and think what they want.

  • roy.minnaar - 2012-08-06 02:45

    Just a curve ball to the racism factor discussed by people below.... What if a person makes racist comments towards a business opening focussing on a specific culturecliental base, on a webpage consisting of hundreds of members? Surely that sets back that business before even showing a profit margin. Racism can be percieved in many forms, however stating your opinion in "public" MUST be Considerate towards you community, ageeing or not. Freedom of speech must not be influences with personal hate or emotions. Along with that is the factor discriminating towards sexual preferences, using "slang" descriptive terms is also unacceptable and shows severe form racist acts.

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