Vicki Momberg sentencing sets significant precedent - SAHRC

2018-03-28 17:52
Vicki Momberg. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

Vicki Momberg. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

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The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has welcomed the sentence which the Randburg Magistrate's Court imposed on former estate agent Vicki Momberg on Wednesday.

Momberg, who had been found guilty of four counts of crimen injuria, was sentenced to three years in prison, one of which was suspended, after her racist outburst.

She used the k-word nearly 50 times during a racist tirade after a smash-and-grab incident.

READ: Jail time for all racists? Here's what the law says

The SAHRC said the sentencing set a "significant precedent in that it confirms the constitutional protection of human dignity".

"The right to human dignity is a foundational value of our constitutional democracy and is enshrined in the Constitution – crimen injuria is a wilful injury to someone's dignity, caused by the use of obscene or racially-offensive language or gestures," SAHRC spokesperson Gail Smith said.

"The SAHRC cannot predict how people will react – however, it is worth noting that the criminal court has made a definitive judgment on the seriousness of infringing on the right to human dignity and crimen injuria in the context of our constitutional democracy," Smith added.

She said the SAHRC encouraged people to report all violations of human rights abuses, including those that violate the right to human dignity.

Magistrate Pravina Rugoonandan said that everyone had a right to dignity that needed to be respected and protected.

Rugoonandan said the police officers that assisted Momberg were dressed in their uniforms, ready to serve and that Momberg's slurs stripped the officers of their dignity.

ALSO READ: Vicki Momberg sentence gives South Africans hope that 'law is on their side' – NPA

At a previous sitting, prosecutor Yusuf Baba told the court that Momberg's was the worst crimen injuria case the courts had dealt with.

"It is my submission that a suitable sentence is direct imprisonment without the option of a fine," Baba said at the time.

Smith said Rugoonandan's judgment confirmed the SAHRC's own action in the Momberg matter and the SAHRC's position on hateful utterances as a violation of human rights.

"Today's judgment reinforces the judgment handed down in the SAHRC's matter in the civil court.  After being found guilty of hate speech, Ms Momberg failed to comply with the Equality Court order and the SAHRC is currently pursuing a contempt of court order against Ms Momberg," Smith said.

Read more on:    sahrc  |  vicki momberg  |  johannesburg  |  judiciary  |  racism

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