Racist Diwali post ‘mistyped error’

2019-11-08 14:45
Two crimen injuria cases against man for anti-Indian Facebook post.

Two crimen injuria cases against man for anti-Indian Facebook post. (File)

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The Greytown man who posted an allegedly racist Facebook message directed at his neighbour, who was letting off fireworks in celebration of Diwali, on Thursday said the post was a mistyped error.

Johan Olivier (51), who appeared at the Greytown Magistrate’s Court, had written a post criticising his neighbour, Regesh Govender, a Hindu, for celebrating Diwali with fireworks on November 7 last year. Olivier said he was angry that the noise caused distress to his pets and family and alleged that Govender had directed the fireworks towards his house.

In the post filled with swear words, he used the derogatory term “c**ly v**lie” to refer to Indian people. The post attracted much criticism, with dozens on Facebook labelling Olivier a racist. The post was taken down a few days later.

Govender laid crimen injuria charges against Olivier.

Defending his actions in court yesterday, Olivier, who was representing himself, said he was very intoxicated and, out of anger from the unexpected firework bangs, he typed out the post without his reading glasses and posted it without having proof-read it first.

“I didn’t know it was Diwali because no one told us. My dogs and pets were crying their heads off. I was so furious with the fireworks and was out of control because I had already had a couple of drinks, so I started typing on my phone.

“I had intended to write ‘that was not cool Diwali shit’ and realised later that I had written something else,” said Olivier.

He said he was alerted about the “error” on his post by his Indian friends who sent him Whats­App messages asking him if he was now a racist. “I quickly took down the post and apologised to everyone who was offended by it and explained that it was not directed to any individual, race or religion,” he said.

Under cross-examination by state prosecutor Zenzele Ndebele, Olivier admitted that at face value, his post was racist. He also agreed that he did not have a vivid recollection about what transpired on that night. He also ended up saying he was wearing his reading glasses when he typed out the post.

Ndebele asked Olivier how he could have typed out the derogatory term “c**ly v**lie” correctly, as previously confirmed by Govender that that was how the racist term was spelt, if he had not even intended to write it on his post or had previously used it before.

At first Olivier said he commonly used the word “cool”, without the y, and said people from the coast were usually called v**lies in rugby jargon.

“I was told that these smartphones can recall words that you have used before, so I think that’s what happened. I can’t remember and I was under the influence of alcohol, so I don’t know what happened,” said Olivier.

Olivier then called his girlfriend, Estelle Beyleveld, to the witness stand. Beyleveld said the loud bangs last year, as well as the ones from this year’s Diwali on October 27, were louder than in previous years.

Magistrate V.B. Zwane reserved judgment and said the matter would be settled on November 19.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  racism case

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