Penny Sparrow 'too sick' to appear in court

2016-06-10 10:43
Screengrab of Facebook post.

Screengrab of Facebook post.

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Umzinto - Controversial KwaZulu-Natal realtor Penny Sparrow was  "too sick" to appear at the Umzinto Equality Court on Friday and fears for her life, her daughter has told the court.

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

The ANC wants the court to find that her utterances were racist and constituted hate speech.

Among the relief sought, it wanted her to pay R200 000 as compensation to an organisation which promoted non-racism, tolerance and reconciliation.

The outrage Sparrow stirred up prompted the ruling party to approach the court in KZN in January.

In a founding affidavit, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said there had recently been a dramatic increase in incidents of open racism and hate speech.

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

Sparrow's daughter Charmaine Cowie cut a disheveled figure as she appeared before magistrate Irfaan Khalil on Friday. 

 “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,” she 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,” Cowie added.   

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

Read more on:    penny sparrow  |  racism

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