In a recent ruling by the Randburg Magistrates’ Court, Jackie Phamotse was found guilty on multiple charges including crimen injuria, defamation, and contempt of court. The case shed light on the serious repercussions of irresponsible social media usage and highlighted the importance of protecting one’s reputation and dignity.
The saga began on 5th June 2018 when Phamotse tweeted about overhearing a conversation involving a businesswoman and a friend discussing a video allegedly depicting her husband engaging in sexual activity with another man.
Instead of clarifying or refuting the tweet, Phamotse responded with a laughing emoji and stated, “I love it,” which further fueled speculation and linked the tweet to the Kumalos.
The impact of Phamotse’s tweet on Romeo Kumalo, his reputation, and his business was devastating. Testifying in court, Khumalo expressed the deep hurt he felt and the irreparable damage caused to his personal and professional life. Basetsana Khumalo, his wife, also shared her anguish, feeling raw, attacked, violated, and insulted by the tweet.
Basetsana sought recourse by approaching the harassment court and obtaining a protection order against Phamotse. However, this did not deter Phamotse from continuing her onslaught.
She published a book titled “I tweet what I like so sue me” in February 2019, which directly violated the protection order. On the cover of her book, she included a case number related to Basetsana’s protection order, and on page 105, she insinuated that the Kuumalos paid off the magistrate to rule in their favour.
During the trial, Phamotse claimed that she published the tweet as part of her writing process and did not intend to cause harm. However, the Senior Public Prosecutor, Yusuf Baba, argued that her actions displayed a complete disregard for the complainants’ rights to a good name, privacy, and dignity. Baba emphasized that Phamotse’s intentional aim was to harm the reputation of the Kumalos.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said it welcomed the judgment delivered by the court as it serves as a powerful reminder of the consequences of using social media irresponsibly.