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South Africa Delivers First Guilty Verdict in Antisemitic Social Media Case


For the first time an individual in South Africa has been convicted in a criminal prosecution of antisemitic abuse.

Randburg Magistrates Court found Matome Letsoalo guilty of “crimen injuria” for threatening and abusive messages targeting the Jewish community in a verdict handed down last Friday.

Letsoalo was convicted for hateful messages he issued over Twitter towards the South Africa Board of Deputies (SAJBD).

On June 21, 2018, Letsoalo tweeted “@SAJBD The #Holocaust Will be like a Picnic When we are done with all you Zionist Bastards. F*** All of You.”

The text was accompanied by an image of Holocaust victims.

Later that morning, Letsoalo sent a second message to the SAJBD, reading, “@SAJBD Must get Decimated. We Can’t have Scandanavian Rats, Fake Jews, Zionist Bastards Running our Economy,” and he continued towards Jewish community members who challenged him on Twitter following his initial outburst.

The SAJBD responded by filing charges against him.

SAJBD national director Wendy Kahn described the court’s ruling as a vindication of over two years of effort by the SAJBD and its legal advisers to call Letsoalo to account for his actions.

“This outcome sends a strong message that threatening and hate-filled attacks on our community will not be tolerated and that the SAJBD will do everything necessary to bring those responsible to justice, no matter how long it takes” said Kahn.

Ian Levitt, whose firm, Ian Levitt Attorneys, represented the SAJBD in the case said that the conviction should serve as a warning to others who engage in online hate against the Jewish community.

“We will continue to assist in the prosecution of those that attack our community, seemingly with impunity, and we hope that this conviction will be a lesson to those who do so,” said Levitt.