The dirt on social media

PEOPLE get emotional about crime – it’s understandable, especially when you or your loved ones are directly affected.

We have had a number of high-profile crimes take place in Ndlambe over the years, among them the unsolved shooting murder of ANC councillor Thembile Bethe, the bludgeoning to death of former Springbok athlete Louie Zimmerman when she was 75 years old, a robbing and stabbing spree in a single night which left three Port Alfred residents gravely wounded, a child molestation case involving former builder Raymond Lerado – who was later also put on trial for theft and fraud, and a brutal attack on former Springbok rugby player Gerrie Sonnekus and two friends.

Anyone who has been touched by crime, especially brutal contact crime, could probably add their own experience to that list.

Recently there have been two more cases which have become high-profile by virtue of the interest shown by the community.

Just days before two men were arrested, TotT was made aware of a rape and sexual assault case involving children in Kenton-on-Sea. We only knew of one alleged pedophile to begin with, and although the same children are involved, the two men are appearing in separate cases.

Barely a week later Port Alfred was rocked by the brutal stabbing murder of local businessman Noel Maddocks, allegedly at the hands of Nemato tavern owner Tonny Donile. The popularity of the victim and circumstances of the crime attracted huge interest and a big turnout at court.

The case of the two alleged pedophiles also drew massive community outrage in Ekuphumleni, and people protested against bail being granted outside the Kenton Magistrate’s Court.

That we are fully immersed in the social media age was made apparent by the interest both of these cases generated on Facebook – on Talk of the Town’s own group and on people’s personal pages.

But as happens on social media, posts quickly became nasty, because it’s so much easier typing personal attacks and racist filth on a keyboard. We cannot control what people say on their own Facebook pages, only report them to Facebook administration if we feel their posts constitute hate speech or harassment. But we can and do control such language on our wall.

It is disappointing that certain people have tried to posit a racial agenda in TotT’s coverage of the two crimes, resorting to despicable accusations on people’s personal walls.

To make it clear, when it comes to identifying suspects in sexual offences cases, media are constrained by the Criminal Procedure Act not to name suspects until they have pleaded, or until the court says we can.

– Jon Houzet

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