A Greek anti-racism bill, amendments for which were adopted in Greece four years ago, would be the key to prosecuting Adam Catzavelos, claims a Durban attorney.
Tashya Giyapersad emphasised that Catzavelos may only be prosecuted along these lines in Greece.
The Johannesburg-based businessman came under fire this week after a video of him using the “k-word” while sharing a weather update was leaked on social media.
In the video, Catzavelos is heard saying: “Let me give you a weather forecast here; blue skies, beautiful day, amazing sea and not one k****r in sight.”
“F****** heaven on earth,” he added.
Greek organisations in South Africa have since lambasted Catzavelos.
The Federation of Hellenic Communities and Societies of South Africa distanced themselves from the video.
President John Philippou said: “Our community continually strives to improve and partake in the development of a harmonious, peaceful co-existence between all South Africans regardless of race, colour or creed.
“Adam Catzavelos’s comments are personal and in no way reflect the opinions of South African Hellenes.”
A South African journalist of Greek descent, Katy Katopodis, called on her fellow Hellenes to condemn Catzavelos.
“I’m also furious with him because many South Africans could now paint all white people and those of Greek descent with the same brush.
“No one can remain silent. Not now and not ever.
“And we don’t have to wait for videos to go viral. Call it as and when you hear and witness it. It’s not ever acceptable.”
Prominent criminal lawyer advocate Zola Majavu told the Sunday Tribune’s sister paper, The Star, that it would be a long stretch to prosecute Catzavelos in South Africa.
On Wednesday, Julius Malema’s EFF in Gauteng opened a criminal case against Catzavelos at a local police station.
But, according to police spokesperson Colonel Brenda Muridili, the investigation would have to be escalated to Interpol, and would have to be carried out according to Greece’s findings.
“The offence was committed in a foreign country so you can’t prosecute him in South Africa unless what he did is also an offence where he recorded the video.
“Then you can have him extradited. The rule is, you are prosecuted where you commit the offence,” Majavu added.
Hate crimes have been on the rise in Greece, according to international media reports.
To combat this, in September 2014 an amendment was adopted to the law combating race discrimination in Greece.
The law in summary states that anyone who publicly stirs, either orally, through the press, the internet, or any other means, acts of hatred against a person or group of persons defined by reference to race in a manner that endangers the public order will be punished by imprisonment and a fine.
The jail term extends from three months to three years, and the maximum fine is e20000 (R332000).
In 2017, racism in the European country tripled compared with the previous year, according to Al Jazeera.
The Hellenic Police, which serves Greece, noted that 133 hate crimes were reported in the country.
Many such crimes were directed against migrants and refugees.
After being booted from the family business, St George's Fine Foods, which has been boycotted by several restaurants and meat supply shops, Catzavelos has since issued an apology.
“I have watched my video and feel total shame. It’s hard to put into words what I want to say and I genuinely apologise.
“I don’t expect people to forgive me, but I will spend the rest of my life repenting and trying to make up for my total lack of respect and judgment,” he said.
The South African government has urged law enforcement agencies to spring into action.
Acting director-general for the Government Communication and Information System, Phumla Williams, said: “His racist comments cannot be justified and display one of the most despicable forms of racism. It is an insult to human dignity and to the fight for freedom.
“Those found guilty cannot escape the consequences of posting racist comments on social media.
“Racism is punishable by law. The government urges law enforcement agencies to take action against Mr Catzavelos.”