A criminal charge has been laid against Simone Abigail Kriel for allegedly posting antisemitic and inflammatory messages on her Instagram page on 16 May.
Among other things, Kriel allegedly wrote that “the f***n Jews are greedy as f**k”, that there is a special place in hell for them, and that German dictator Adolf Hitler was “innocent” of the Holocaust.
The charge was laid by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) through its legal representatives, Ian Levitt Attorneys.
According to the SA Jewish Report, Kriel, 28, lives in Pretoria and is relatively well-known in fitness circles.
She identifies as Christian. She has about 3,000 followers on Instagram, and was brand ambassador for fitness brand PSN Lifestyle. The company reportedly ended the deal after complaints from the public about her antisemitic posts.
Kriel’s page on Fitness magazine’s website has also been closed. Her Instagram account no longer exists.
The SAJBD national vice-chairperson, Professor Karen Milner, in whose name the charge was laid, said that racist and inflammatory rhetoric of this nature was not only criminal but dangerous, and needed to be confronted as strongly as possible. This was particularly true in the current climate, when many people were feeling anxious, frustrated and confused, she said.
“It is at such times that conspiracy theories tend to flourish, and all too often Jews end up becoming the scapegoats,” said Milner, a professor of psychology at Wits University.
“The posts in this case portray, inter alia, Jews as being intrinsically evil, morally and spiritually corrupt, and enemies of humanity at large. As such, they constitute classic antisemitism.”
David Saks, associate director of the SAJBD, said that Kriel was given a deadline to remove the comments and apologise for it, which she refused to do.
“Initially, we wrote to her to ask her to remove the posts and apologise to the Jewish community, but she didn’t; in fact, she carried on posting similar things on Facebook. She’s really not sorry for what she’s [allegedly] done, she thinks she’s quite justified in letting the world know what the ‘Jews are all about’.
“So, in view of the hate speech laws under review by the Constitutional Court, we decided to lay a criminal case.”
Saks said the comments came “out of the blue” and that Kriel had previously dated a Jewish man, and had at one point considered converting to Judaism. But then she came upon some videos that turned her into a “passionate convert to an antisemitic world view”, Saks said.
News24 could not reach Kriel by telephone.
She told the SA Jewish Report: “I didn’t go look for them [the videos], they just happened to pop up on Facebook. Out of curiosity, I had a look.”
Kriel reportedly said the videos infuriated her and that she now believed “the Holocaust was a set-up, executed by Hitler’s men, at the cost of millions of Jewish lives”.