Holidaymaker to face charges for racist viral video shot abroad

Screenshot of Adam Catzavelos.
Screenshot of Adam Catzavelos.

Adam Catzavelos, identified as the person behind the viral video shared on social media, is likely to face charges in South Africa for being racist.

On Tuesday, a video surfaced of Catzavelos celebrating the lack of black people at what is believed to be a Greek holiday destination, where he repeatedly uses the k-word.

If precedence is anything to go by, Catzavelos – like Penny Sparrow and Vicki Momberg before him – will also face some form of prosecution for his alleged racist action.

In 2015, Sparrow made racist remarks about black people on a Durban beach front. She suffered the humiliation of having a book thrown at her and a criminal sentence for her outburst.

Momberg, a former real estate agent, was sentenced to an effective two years in prison by the Randburg Magistrate’s Court for her racist tirade directed at a black police officer. The police officer helped her after an alleged smash-and-grab incident in 2016.

The Catzavelos matter is, however, not as cut and dry.

On one hand, Sparrow and Momberg both suffered speedy prosecution because their articulations were made in South Africa and the country’s law dictates that they be held accountable.

Catzavelos, on the other hand, recorded himself making these racist utterances while on holiday in what is believed to be Greece and the question raised was whether or not our courts had any jurisdiction to act on Catzavelos.

Speaking to City Press on Wednesday, expert on social media law Emma Sadleir explained that even though Catzavelos incriminated himself while abroad, “publication of the recorded content takes place where the content is viewed”.

With so many South Africans having viewed the content in the country it then applies that Catzavelos may be charged for the circulation of obscene and racially offensive material.

Advocate Mdu Madonsela with the Madonsela Mthunzi Inc Attorneys added that it did not matter that Catzavelos was out of the country when he used the k-word or the fact that it may not be an offence in that country.

“What is paramount in this case is Catzavelos’ domicile [place of residence]. As much as he is a South African citizen, if his place of abode was in America then this would be a different scenario but since he resides in South Africa jurisdiction will be in South Africa.

“Also if you look at the word used [the k-word] it has resonance and historic significance specifically within the South African context,” said Madonsela.

The knowledge that Catzavelos may be charged in South Africa may put some South Africans at ease since the video has been met with outrage and calls for Catzavelos to be charged with hate speech.

“Some have even taken the matter as far as publicising Catzavelos’ home address, ID numbers and other personal information in their efforts at seeking justice,” said Sadleir, who advised South Africans to stop such acts as these also infringed on Catzavelos’ own right to privacy.

For his actions, Catzavelos has since been fired from the family business St George’s Fine Foods, and one client of the company has already decided to find another supplier.

Adding to his woes, the Economic Freedom Fighters in Gauteng, joined by pastor Paseka “Mboro” Motsoeneng, laid a criminal case against Catzavelos on Wednesday at the Bramely Police Station.

The South African Human Rights Commission also confirmed that it would probe the incident.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24


Read the digital editions of City Press here.
Read now
Voting Booth
The CCMA has ruled that the dismissal of an employee for refusing to be vaccinated against Covid-19 was fair. What are your thoughts?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
It is her right to refuse
22% - 19 votes
She is a risk to others
49% - 43 votes
Mandatory vaccination ?
13% - 11 votes
No to mandatory vaxxing
17% - 15 votes