‘Desist from bullying, defamatory remarks’: Kumalos plead with social media users
The couple released a statement three days after judgment was handed down in their favour.
Basetsana Kumalo and her husband Romeo inside the Randburg Magistrates’ Court after judgment. Picture: basetsanakumalo/Instagram
In their official statement since the judgment against author Jackie Phamotse on Tuesday, the Kumalos have cautioned South Africans to “exercise extreme caution when using social media platforms.”
The Randburg Magistrates’ Court found Phamotse guilty on two counts of crimen injuria − one of defamation and one of contempt of court.
In 2018, Phamotse tweeted that she had overheard a conversation between a businesswoman and one of her friends about a video depicting her husband engaging in sexual activity with another man. When her followers linked the tweet with the Kumalos, Phamotse responded with a laughing emoji and said “I love it” and did not refute it.
As the expression goes he who laughs last, laughs best and the Kumalos were all smiles on Tuesday after the judgement.
“We wish to appeal to South Africans to exercise extreme caution when using social media platforms, to at least desist from bullying, making false claims and defamatory remarks about other fellow citizens,” read the statement issued by Romeo and Basetsana Kumalo.
“Social media remains a powerful avenue through which we can empower and educate each other. It is therefore critical that it is not used as an outlet to defame, disparage, and besmirch.”
A statement by the NPA averred that husband Romeo testified that the tweet was deeply hurtful; it caused enormous irreparable damage to his reputation and that of his business.
Basetsana testified in court that the tweet made her feel raw, attacked, violated, and insulted. Basetsana approached the harassment court and was granted a protection order against Phamotse, but that didn’t stop Phamotse’s onslaught.
Phamotse went further with her onslaught on the Kumalos when, in 2019, she published a book titled I Tweet What I Like … So Sue Me in which she violated the protection order against her.
On the cover of her book, she referred to a case number that relates to a case registered by Basetsana against her, seeking a protection order.
On page 105 of the book, Phamotse suggests that the Kumalos have a lot of money and paid the magistrate to rule in their favour.
In court, Phamotse testified that she published the tweet as part of her writing process. She further stated that she did not intend to cause harm to anyone.
But the damage had been done, according to the Kumalo statement.
“We are relieved that the saga has now been dispensed with and that our families can start a moment of reflection, healing, and recovery.
“Our children have been devastatingly impacted by these damning allegations. We watched with pain, their psychological beings, social lives and self-esteem taking unimaginable knocks. As businesspeople, our ability to pursue sustainable livelihoods were hamstrung, with some business prospects being brought to a halt.”
The matter has been on the roll for almost five years and sentencing is expected to be handed down on 24 October.