The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) welcomes the court’s verdict and sentencing of Vicki Momberg by the Randburg Magistrate court. The IJR also applauds the country’s justice system for finally viewing racism as a crime appropriate of a jail term and not a mere fine.
Momberg who was found guilty on four counts of crimen injuria by the Randburg Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday 28 March 2018 and sentenced to three years imprisonment, of which one year was suspended refused to accept help from Constable David Mkhondo after she fell victim to a smash-and-grab incident in Johannesburg. She used the k-word 48 times and told Mkhondo and his colleagues that the “calibre of blacks” in Johannesburg was low. In court she says she believes the k-word is not offensive “unless they (black people) feel or believe they are what they are being called.”
The IJR as one of the civil society organisations behind the draft plan of the of the National Action Plan to combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (2016 – 2021) views this sentence by the court as a milestone, considering this is the first time a judge sentences someone to jail for using the k-word. This sentencing has ensured that racial intolerance is punished for its inhumane and degrading exploit. For the largest part, confronting racism was left to social media and hashtags to oppose this with perpetrators going without punishment.
This sentencing will also encourage the silenced to seek justice when confronted with this act which has for the longest viewed black people as second class citizens. While applauding this, the IJR also notes that to completely #RootOutRacism, South Africa needs a more holistic set of measures that will deter or eradicate racism in its wholeness in the long term. This sentence may serve to deter against the actions of racism but not the attitudes as attitudes will need much more.
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