The fireworks display, a highlight of the Durban Diwali Festival, at the weekend.
Durban - REGESH Govender believes he is a step closer to justice after his neighbour was found guilty of crimen injuria.

During Diwali celebrations, last November, his neighbour, Johan Olivier, called Govender a "coo**e vaalie" in a post on Facebook.

Govender had been setting off fireworks at the time.

The post went viral and Olivier faced backlash from the Indian community.

He subsequently deleted the post and posted an apology to the Hindu community.

Olivier, who referred to himself as an animal rights activist, said the sound of the fireworks affected his dogs.

But for Govender, 49, a businessman, the apology was not enough.

He opened a case against Olivier for hate speech.

The matter went on trial earlier this month in the Greytown Magistrate’s Court. Olivier was found guilty and will be sentenced on December 6.

Govender said he prayed the conviction would make people tolerant of other religions.

“We did not do anything wrong on that night. We were lighting fireworks during the prescribed time. The fireworks were not big bangs. His post was insulting and uncalled for.”

The father of two said Olivier was a racist.

“He needs to be taught a lesson. I hope he gets a lengthy jail sentence. We are living in a democracy. We need to show respect for other people’s beliefs. He did not do that. He did not seem remorseful about his actions.”

Govender said at every Diwali, before and during the Hindu celebration, derogatory remarks were posted on social media.

“This needs to end. This is the reason I fought for my case to be taken to trial.”

Ashwin Trikamjee, president of the SA Hindu Maha Sabha, said the Hindu community was tired of people making derogatory statements and apologising.

“They claim they are not racist but their actions and words are. They have a racist attitude. We are 25 years into democracy and we still have to deal with things like this.”

Trikamjee said Olivier must be made an example of. “There must be no sympathy for him during his sentencing. It is too late now.”

Olivier did not comment at the time of publication.

POST