Picture: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Johannesburg - The SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) on Friday confirmed it had withdrawn criminal charges against two men accused of making threatening and antisemitic comments after a settlement was reached. 

The organisation laid charges against Tameez Seedat and Muhammad Hattia following comments they made on a Whatsapp group Sneakerheads. 

The SAJBD in a statement welcomed the settlement reached with the duo at a meeting at Ian Levitt Attorneys in Sandton. 

"Senior SAJBD representatives, including the National Chairman Shaun Zagnoev, as well as one of the administrators of the Sneakerheads group were present." 

"The SAJBD welcomes the settlement. We are committed to building a South Africa where people accept and respect the right of others to hold different viewpoints, irrespective of whether or not we agree with them. 

"We are further encouraged by the sincerity and goodwill that emerged during the meeting held between the parties and their legal representatives last night."

The organisation added: "There had been no doubt that both Seedat and Hattia were genuinely remorseful for what they had done and wished only to make amends. 

"The comments made by family members who accompanied them likewise showed a sincere desire to address whatever harm had been done and move forward in a spirit of peace and reconciliation."

In terms of the agreement, Hattia and Seedat expressed sincere regret at having posted the comments, and unequivocally apologised in writing to the South African Jewish community and to the Jewish members of the Sneakerheads group. 

It was also agreed that both would attend a programme at the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre to learn more about the importance of fighting bigotry and intolerance.

The group administrator said that he had felt comfortable accepting the apologies since those responsible genuinely regretted their actions. 

"He further remarked on how positive a difference it made for those in conflict with each other simply to meet face to face to resolve the issues between them," the organisation said. 

The SAJBD confirmed it would continue with its legal action against Matome Letsoalo, who "has enthusiastically continued his attacks against the Jewish community on social media".