Will there be equal justice?

THE big news this week, following the prolific attention given to the Australian cricket team for ball tampering, was the prison sentence handed down to former estate agent Vicki Momberg for using the “K” word in a racist tirade to police officers who came to her assistance after she was robbed in 2016.

In case you have not heard by now, Momberg was indeed sentenced to actual jail time – two years, with an additional year suspended – and was denied bail to appeal her sentence, which her attorney has indicated they would be doing.

Randburg magistrate Pravina Raghoonandan heeded the request of prosecutor Yusuf Baba, who earlier in the case had asked that Momberg be sentenced to direct imprisonment without the option of a fine, as Momberg’s was “the worst crimen injuria case” the courts had dealt with.

In her judgment, Raghoonandan said: “The duty to eradicate racism and its tendencies has become all the more apparent, essential and urgent now. For this reason, nothing that threatens to take us back to our racist past should be glossed over.”

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) says the effective two-year jail term handed down to Momberg, now known as a convicted racist, is a landmark sentence that will set a precedent for similar cases.

As much as we might hate racial insults, especially the historically loaded “K” word, there is something deeply troubling about justice in this country if a person can be jailed for crimen injuria while people who have done actual violence to others walk free or get a meaninglessly light sentence.

Although defence attorney Kevin Lawlor told the court that Momberg was not in a normal state of mind when she made her racist remarks, after just being victim to a smash-and-grab incident, the court did not consider this to be a mitigating factor.

Lawlor had asked for Momberg to be sent for rehabilitation instead of imprisonment.

Social media erupted with gloating following the sentence, with the predictable equally racist responses from an assortment of people, with suggestions that half her land be taken and that applications are still open to move to Australia among them.

Considering the awful racist things that have been said by people, politicians and SRC presidents among them, wishing for bazookas to blow up white people and an exhortation to “cut the throat of whiteness”, it is bewildering that the NPA decided to make the prosecution of a nobody its test case to set precedent.

And the entire country will now be watching to see if such precedent is indeed applied equally, or if it will be race-based.

– Jon Houzet

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