So warn social media specialists as a slew of video clips made the news this week, topped by the appearance of Deputy Minister for Higher Education Mduduzi Manana in court on serious assault charges after admitting to hitting a woman, Mandisa Duma, in the early hours of Sunday morning after an argument at the Cubana restaurant in Fourways, Johannesburg. It is alleged Manana flew into a rage when Duma called him “gay”, with video footage of the assault showing a vicious altercation.
Manana was released on bail of R5000 amid calls for President Jacob Zuma to sack him. With the country celebrating Women’s Month, civil society and even his own party, the ANC, have been quick to condemn Manana, with National Police Minister Fikile Mbalula stating the law will take its course.
In a different incident, widely shared on social media, a video clip of a boy beating up a girl in a Durban school sparked public outrage and galvanised education officials to track down the victim and alleged perpetrator yesterday.
KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa confirmed last night that education officials visited the Siyathuthuka High School in Inanda yesterday morning to speak to school management about the violent attack. Education officials and the girl’s family opened up a case of assault yesterday afternoon.
“We found that when the incident happened in November last year, it was very poorly handled. We will now start investigations from scratch,” said Mthethwa.
He said KZN Education MEC Mthandeni Dlungwane mandated his rapid response task team to handle investigations into the incident.
In the video, the boy kicks and hits the schoolgirl, who tried to cover herself from the blows. Another pupil comes into the scene, but was not able to stop the boy.
The girl is then seen stumbling away, holding the wall for support and putting on a shoe that came off.
The boy is believed to be about 17 years of age and has moved to another school in KwaMashu.
“We will have a team of legal experts, security personnel and social workers all working on this case. We condemn this type of behaviour,” said Mthethwa.
SAPS KZN spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane confirmed a charge of assault had been opened.
Further proof that you can’t escape the camera came with the release of video footage of two groups of Durban golfers and officials caught in a confrontation. The punch-up video went viral.
The incident happened after a group of male golfers allegedly started swearing at female players from the Pink Ladies Golf School after their game was being held up at Athlone Club. When club officials arrived to assist the women, it ended in fisticuffs.
The club has distanced itself from the altercation.
The aftermath of a video clip of a couple being assaulted outside a Pretoria KFC drive-through saw five men appearing in court on Thursday after they were accused of a racist attack on a black couple.
Meanwhile, the two men accused of assaulting and pushing
Social media specialist Emma Sadleir described the trend of outing offenders on social media as “extremely powerful”.
“This emergence of citizen journalism is an extraordinary thing in South Africa. For example, it is doubtful Manana could have been prosecuted if there had been no footage,” she said.
“Everyone has a phone in their pocket and has become celebrities in the digital age.”
She highlighted two major concerns about video clips of alleged wrongdoing being aired on social media.
“It could easily become vigilantism and the video content and evidence has to be in the ‘four corners of footage’. For example, CCTV footage of a suspect in action can be shared, but simply posting someone’s face with accusations of wrongdoing is not allowed,” she said, adding that a person’s reputation and profession can be ruined overnight.
The second concern is the secondary harm being done to a victim, especially when it comes to bullying.
“The victim suffers further trauma from this being shared and it does even more harm. A victim must be protected and his/her face should be blurred, especially in the case of children. The dignity of a victim is paramount,” she added.
Sadleir also highlighted that intent behind a video clip must also be considered.
Another social media specialist, managing director of World Wide Worx, Arthur Goldstuck, described the phenomenon of video clips recorded by members of the public as evidence of criminal deeds and abuse as “the flip side of the Big Brother phenomenon”.
“While the surveillance of citizens by authorities continues to intensify and bring us closer to a Big Brother world, the tables are being turned globally by citizens recording the
“The technology to record, as well as distribute such material via social media, is advancing even faster than the technology that allows authorities to monitor the public,” said Goldstuck.
He added that while “It is ironic that even as social media undermines our privacy, it is also playing an important role in empowering us to expose and reveal the abuse of those in positions of authority or power.
He also underlined the importance of context, saying “The danger is that old videos are often recycled as evidence of current abuses which can lead to violent or even fatal consequences when it results in mob
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