24 May 2019

South Africa: Prospects of Adam Catzavelos' Prosecution for K-Word Slur Video Are Slim - Expert

Photo: Twitter
Video screenshot of Adam Catzavelos who caused outrage after a video of him using a racial slur went viral in 2018.

The prospects that businessman Adam Catzavelos can be prosecuted for a racial slur, which he made in a viral video taken in Greece, are slim, a legal expert has told News24.

In the video, Adam Catzavelos records himself at a holiday spot in Greece, saying: "Not one k****r in sight, fucking heaven on earth... You cannot beat this!"

Tarin Page an associate at HJW Attorneys says essentially, in law, the rule is that the country where the offence is committed has the jurisdiction to prosecute.

"In this case, Greece does not have the same laws pertaining to racism as SA and therefore his racist rant is not considered a crime in Greece," Page said.

Catzavelos is expected to appear in the Randburg Magistrate's Court on May 28 where it is believed that he will face a crimen injuria charge.

However, Page says if such a racial slur was a crime in Greece, he could have been extradited to South Africa to be prosecuted here.

She added that while there is no law in Greece regarding racism, amendments to an anti-racism Bill were passed four years ago.

Page said if Catzavelos had recorded the video, which went viral while he was in South Africa, then there would be a possibility that he could be charged in terms of the Electronic Communications Act.

However, from the circumstances, it appears that the video was recorded and posted in Greece, she added.

Page said Catzavelos' case was unique because it was streamed worldwide, including in South Africa.

"As such, some experts think that this may be an exception to the general rule which could possibly give SA jurisdiction," she explained.

Out of the country

But René Koraan, a senior lecturer at the law faculty of North West University was of the view that it didn't matter that Catzavelos was out of the country when he used the k-word; nor whether it might not be an offence in that country, according to News24.

"It comes down to domicile (place of residence), so jurisdiction will be in South Africa. And if you look at the word itself, I don't think [Catzavelos] was referring to any other group of people in any other place or country."

Lawyer and social media expert Emma Sadlier told News24 that while it was an infringement of Catzevelos' privacy that the video was taken from a WhatsApp group, and that he himself had not posted it on social media.

"It's a valid infringement," she said.

"There are two defences to privacy infringement: consent and public interest. There's a lot of public interest in rooting out racism."

The South African Human Rights Commission was also investigating the matter following the incident. In addition, the EFF also laid a criminal charge of crimen injuria against Catzevelos.

News24

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