South African law needs a zero tolerance approach to racist utterances

2018-10-04 05:00

Kelly Phelps

A “selfie” video rant has landed a South African man, Kessie Nair, in hot water. Nair faces six counts of crimen injuria and two of incitement to public violence after recording himself spewing racist language at the country’s President Cyril Ramaphosa. He has since apologised to the president.

But what is crimen injuria, and why is it being used in this instance?

Crimen injuria is a supple common law offence that has been applied to a diverse array of conduct. It’s a unique feature of South African criminal law, and focuses on the protection of dignity and privacy, rather than the protection of reputation, which is encompassed by the law of defamation.

It’s defined in South Africa as “unlawfully and intentionally…

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