Johannesburg - The Randburg Magistrate's Court has made it clear that one can be punished for making derogatory comments about someone on social media.
Magistrate Helen Banks ruled that Jackie Phamotse - author of the book Bare - harassed businesswoman Basetsana Kumalo in a tweet which made no direct mention of the media mogul. Drawing their own conclusions from her tweet, social media users threw Kumalo and her husband Romeo's names into the mix.
Phamotse had tweeted: “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 rim**ng a celebrity boy!!!!!!!!! What the hell!!!! Kanti what kind of marriages do we have now!!! I have asked to see this video (sic).”
Kumalo laid a charge of harassment against Phamotse who was then dragged to court.
The author has been essentially gagged after being ordered to never make comments about Kumalo on social media. The magistrate also ruled that Phamotse would be arrested should she violate the order.
The matter was held in camera on Thursday and Kumalo’s attorney, Angelike Charalambous, told The Star that the magistrate had stated that Kumalo was entitled to protection and that Phamotse had, in fact, harassed her.
She also said Banks had told Phamotse that she knew she was causing damage to the businesswoman and should have put the record straight that she knew that whatever it is that she put out on social media was a lie.
"There is an order against Jackie. If she misbehaves, she will get arrested and get a chance of being sentenced to up to five years imprisonment,” Charalambous said.
Kumalo, who was smiling from ear to ear and posing for pictures after her court victory, was a complete opposite to Phamotse who looked nervous and forlorn as she walked with her lawyer.
#BasetsanaKumalo outside the Randburg Magistrate court after Magistrate Helen Banks ruled that #JackiePhamotse harassed her. Phamotse has been ordered not to make any comments on social media about Kumalo or face arrest. @ReporterStar @TheStar_news pic.twitter.com/qui3TgM99O
The smiling Kumalo said she was pleased about the outcome and that her court victory should be a lesson to “faceless people”.
“I feel vindicated and blessed that my family name has been restored. People must be responsible about people’s names. They must not make stories that don’t have any basis of truth [that] they can’t prove in the court of law.
"People cannot make malicious, diabolical diatribe stories that have no basis of truth.
"(This case) says cyber-bullying has to stop. I took on the fight for the collective not only for the Kumalos. Nobody has the right when someone has worked hard to build their names, their credibility and integrity... These keyboard warriors, faceless people...it has to stop and today is the vindication that nobody should ever do that to anybody,” she said.
A sad looking Phamotse refused to comment with her lawyer saying they would issue a statement.
This is not the first case where people were dragged to court and later being punished afterwards.
In March, Joyce Molamu who accused media personality Uyanda Mbuli of having an affair with her boyfriend was sentenced to a R6 000 fine or four months’ imprisonment for her Facebook post.
Mbuli laid a crimen injuria case against Molamu for her defamatory statements.
In a January 2013 judgment, the South Gauteng High Court granted a Facebook user an interdict preventing a friend from posting about his personal life on the site.
The judge in the matter ordered the respondent to remove all postings which she has posted on Facebook or any other site in the social media which referred to the applicant.
The respondent was also ordered to pay the applicant’s costs.