The woman behind the online harassment of TV personality Basetsana Kumalo and her husband, Romeo, has said her actions were positive as they created awareness around sexual abuse.
The bizarre statement formed part of Jackie Phamotse’s legal defence on Thursday, although it didn’t stop the Kumalos from securing a harassment order against her that, if broken, could see the young author imprisoned or fined. While Phamotse has not yet released a statement about the ruling, the Saturday Star has seen her responding papers, where Phamotse punts her book, highlights her hundreds of thousands of social media followers, and admits the controversial post was entirely fabricated.
Phamotse initially came under fire in June after she posted: “Just overheard a painful conversation, a female TV mogul Pleading with one of my girls to not share videos of her drunk and her husband (sic) rimming a celebrity boy!!!!!!!!! What the hell!!!! Kanti, what kind of marriages do we have now!!! I have asked to see this video.”
The comment set off a firestorm on Twitter, where various users began connecting the statement to the Kumalos, prompting them to open up a civil harassment claim against Phamotse as well as a case of crimen injuria. On Thursday, in-camera proceedings at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court saw Phamotse’s legal team try to argue that the post was actually a preview of Phamotse’s next book.
In the first few pages of Phamotse’s responding affidavit, she argues that the court needs to take her writing style into account: “I take pride in writing in an honest, direct and detailed manner. In doing so, I depict the violent and explicit nature of the realistic events that occur under the radar.”
Phamotse claimed that before publishing her books, she liked to post quotes from them on Twitter to gauge fan reaction. She argued that the controversial post was fictional, and that the video she mentioned was non-existent.
“I deliberately did not disclose that there was no video because the statement had the exact effect that I wanted. It created a reaction to the sexual depravities between children and men. The statement created awareness, albeit on a fictional scenario,” her affidavit reads about the Tweet.
She then provides the definition of “poetic licence” and says the tweet was used to create “entertainment value or, in this case, audience uproar”. She also argued that she never mentioned the Kumalos by name, and that she has also been “financially prejudiced” by the legal action because of having to pay legal costs to defend herself.
After proceedings, the Kumalos’ legal team explained that magistrate Helen Banks had ultimately sided with their clients. According to Ian Levitt Attorneys’ Angelike Charalambous, who represented the Kumalos, the magistrate had ruled that Phamotse had failed in her obligation to clarify that the tweet was fictional to her followers, and that her behaviour was confirmed as harassment.
Because of this, a warrant of arrest was issued against Phamotse - stayed for five years - that would be used if further harassment took place against the Kumalos.
Outside of court, Basetsana Kumalo told the Saturday Star: “For me, I feel that my family has been vindicated from a malicious, diabolical diatribe.
“I am very pleased about the outcome. Cyber-bullying has to stop. People cannot make up stories about people and think they can get away with it.
“I didn’t only do this for me and my family, but for every South African who works hard to build their name, their credibility and can only trade on their integrity,” she said.
“Just because you are a public figure does not mean people can take cheap shots at you.”
Yesterday, Phamotse’s lawyer Abré Loubser said his client would be issuing a statement soon.
The Saturday Star