Sharika Regchand
News Editor
3 minute read
14 Mar 2019

Woman ordered to stop online harassment

Sharika Regchand

A city woman, Kavitha Nerputh, on Wednesday won a court order protecting her from any harassment by her former friend, Yugeshnie Reddy.

A city woman, Kavitha Nerputh, on Wednesday won a court order protecting her from any harassment by her former friend, Yugeshnie Reddy.

Granting the order, Pietermaritzburg magistrate Zodumo Dlamini warned the two women to stay away from each other. She also issued a stern warning about how seriously harassment matters are taken.

Reddy is a financial planner from Estcourt. The court order relates to remarks posted on social media by Reddy, who the court found created fake profiles that referred to Nerputh as a prostitute.

The magistrate on Wednesday also issued a warrant of arrest for Reddy, which will be enforced should she violate the court’s protection from harassment order.

She explained to Reddy that the warrant will take effect if she disobeys the court, and if found guilty she could be sentenced to a term up to five years’ imprisonment.

She also cautioned Nerputh that if she laid false charges against Reddy, she too could be prosecuted, and face a sentence of up to two years’ imprisonment.

“In simple terms, stay away from each other,” warned Dlamini.

Detailing the history of the dispute, Dlamini said the women had been friends and then their relationship soured. They gave the court different reasons as to why this happened, each blaming the other. Nerputh then found herself being harassed on social media, particularly on Facebook.

The crux of her complaint, said Dlamini, was content referring to her as a “sex trader” and “prostitute”.

In August 2017, Nerputh brought an urgent application to stop the online harassment.

Dlamini said Reddy was adamant she was opposing the application and then brought a counter-application against Nerputh, saying she was in fact the one being harassed by Nerputh.

Dlamini on Wednesday dismissed Reddy’s application, saying it had no merit.

The magistrate said the Facebook profiles created of Nerputh were not real.

Her photos were used without her consent and slanderous comments about her were placed on her profile, such as “prostitute”.

Reddy labelled her as a prostitute repeatedly, Dlamini emphasised.

“The question is whether the conduct of saying these things on Facebook amounted to acts of harassment,” she said.

The magistrate added that in these proceedings, Reddy had referred to Nerputh as a “whore”.

“It is common cause that when you refer to someone as a whore, it is undesirable,” she said.

Dlamini said doing this on Facebook and other media platforms, which are accessible to everyone in the world, is harassment.

“She [Nerputh] deserves to be protected,” she said.

Dlamini said that Reddy had “conceded” that she used the name “Bhaktin Geshy”, “Singh” and other aliases.

It was under these aliases that the fake profiles were created calling Nerputh a “prostitute” and “whore”.

“By her own admission, Reddy admitted she is the author of these Facebook posts,” the magistrate said.

When Reddy heard this she uttered loud whispers of “no, no, no”.

Dlamini, however, turned a deaf ear and continued with her judgment.

While she was explaining Reddy’s rights to appeal, Reddy intervened.

The magistrate stopped her and said, “You have a preconceived idea. You just barge in and address the court and say what you want to … it’s like you’re saying ‘don’t waste my time’.”

Reddy then began to sink into her chair, prompting the magistrate to reprimand her again.

“Sit straight. That is not the correct way of sitting no matter how low you think of the courts. Please don’t interrupt me,” said Dlamini.

Reddy listened attentively when her rights to appeal were explained.