As issued by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) [national]
Last Friday, a major step forward in the battle against online antisemitism was taken when the Randburg Magistrates Court found Matome Letsoalo guilty of crimen injuria for threatening and abusive tweets targeting the Jewish community. This was the first-ever criminal verdict in an antisemitism case in South Africa.
On 21 June 2018, the SAJBD received a message from Letsoalo reading “@SAJBD The #Holocaust Will be like a Picnic When we are done with all you Zionist Bastards. Fuck 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” [images supplied]. In subsequent Twitter exchanges with Jewish community members who challenged him, Letsoalo posted further threatening and abusive messages. The SAJBD responded by laying a charge of crimen injuria against Letsoalo.
SAJBD National Director Wendy Kahn described the court’s ruling as a vindication of over two years’ effort by the SAJBD and its legal advisors 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,” she said.
Ian Levitt, whose firm Ian Levitt Attorneys represented the SAJBD in the case, explained;
“This matter has been going on for over two years but despite several delays mostly brought on by COVID-19, we were not swayed in our determination to have Letsaolo convicted. 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.”
Letsoalo will appear in court again this coming Friday for mitigation and sentencing.
For more information please contact Wendy Kahn on 082 444 3675 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Issued by Charisse Zeifert