Phumla Williams. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Phumla Williams. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

Legal experts doubt businessman Adam Catzavelos can be prosecuted for his use of the k-word in a leaked WhatsApp video, but the government disagrees, saying racism is illegal.

Adam Catzavelos uses the k-word to celebrate the fact that no black people were present at a beach he visited in Greece. The leaked video‚ which was sent to a WhatsApp group‚ went viral on Tuesday night.

On Thursday, the government urged law agencies to take action against him.

"Racism is punishable by law‚ under the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill. While government respects freedom of expression‚ the public should be responsible in how they express their views. Racism has detrimental effects in disrupting the advances we have made as a country‚" said Phumla Williams, acting director-general at the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS).

"His racial comments undermine the gains made towards social cohesion‚ nation building and strengthening our vibrant young democracy," she said.

"It is an insult to human dignity and to the fight for freedom. SA is a democratic country that is governed by the constitution, and the rule of law applies; and all who live within our borders should be promoting social cohesion and peaceful co-existence."

The government advised all citizens that the use of social media was just like any other form of publication‚ and people could be held liable for the consequences for that they post.

Despite the outrage at the Johannesburg business person’s blatant racism‚ lawyers told Times Select it would be very difficult to make criminal charges stick.

"First‚ it must be proven that he intended to impair someone’s dignity. This may be difficult because his words were aimed at his friends in a private message‚ not at someone he was intending to demean," advocate Mark Oppenheimer said.

Another lawyer said crimen injuria required a target.

For more on this, visit Times Select.