The High Court in Johannesburg has heard that poet and activist Ntsiki Mazwai acted irresponsibly when she posted on social media that radio personality DJ Fresh was a rapist.
On Tuesday, the court instructed Mazwai to refrain from making further derogatory statements about the 947 DJ, whose real name is Thato Sikwane.
Sikwane had sought the injunction to force Mazwai to remove the social media post.
Mazwai told thousands of her followers that the popular DJ was a rapist while referencing another post on Facebook in which other alleged perpetrators of sexual violence were mentioned.
Her lawyer tried to convince the court on Tuesday that she was an activist who used social media platforms to reflect on issues of abuse because many victims did not have the means to defend themselves.
The legal team also argued that Mazwai did in fact delete her post to comply with Sikwane’s initial request and that silencing her would instill fear of speaking out.
Sikwane’s lawyers disagreed, telling Judge Brian Spilg that the poet singled out their client with unfounded derogatory statements, ultimately infringing on his dignity.
In the end, Spilg ruled in Sikwane’s favour. The cost order judgment is expected to be heard on Thursday.
SOCIAL MEDIA USERS WARNED AGAINST NAMING AND SHAMING
Meanwhile, digital law expert Emma Sadleir cautioned against the naming and shaming of people on social media without proof that the accusations are true, and that the sharing of the information is for the benefit of the public.
“There’s no question that to call somebody either a sexual offender or a rapist is one of the most defamatory things you can say about somebody. And it doesn’t matter whether you make that allegation to five people or to five million people,” Sadleir said. “As soon as it’s been published on any of these social media platforms, even if it’s a small WhatsApp group, then the legal issues around defamation are triggered.”
Sadleir said that by law, those who also acted as secondary publishers without facts automatically assumed responsibility and liability for the publication.
“Even if I’m just a re-tweeter or the sharer or the re-poster or the forwarder, I am responsible for that content. And I would need to show that what I’m saying is true and for the benefit of the public,” she said. “So, if you’ve got no first-hand knowledge of the truth, I really warn social media users against jumping on the bandwagon.”