TikTokker harassed; need to remove videos

Henry

The Booysens Magistrate’s Court found earlier today that TikTok user Njabulo Madlanga was guilty of harassment when she made unsubstantiated allegations of racism against three young men on social media.

The harmful videos in which she made these allegations against Reece Lopes (20), Milan Kruijer (20) and Jude Fraser-Grant (21) were widely distributed on social media. Madlanga has now been ordered by the court to remove the videos from all social media platforms and has been banned from further harassing the applicants.

The videos have since been removed.

Friday’s decision means that the interim protection order issued on 23 October last year has been made a final order of the court. The National Prosecuting Authority has yet to decide whether Madlanga will be prosecuted.

Lopes, Kruijer and Fraser-Grant are represented by AfriForum’s private prosecution unit.

The case stems from an incident in July last year at the Gold Reef City amusement park in Johannesburg after which Madlanga accused the three friends on TikTok of making “monkey noises” towards her and her relatives.

Lopes, Kruijer and Fraser-Grant, who were harassed and threatened after Madlanga’s videos, filed a criminal case against her with the police.

According to the affidavits submitted by the three friends to the police, Madlanga and her relatives pushed in front of them as they waited to board one of the roller coasters.

It was apparently at this stage that Madlanga claimed that the three friends made noises imitating monkeys. She shared a video on TikTok in which she argues that if you are a black person and visit the amusement park, people will make monkey noises for you.

In another TikTok post, and at the request of her followers to identify the alleged racists, Madlanga posted a video of the three standing in line.

Some of her posts have been viewed more than two million times

Kruijer sent a message to Madlanga on 9 July in which he denied her allegations of racism. He also denied that he or his friends made any noises or that they are racist.

It is in this message that he also warned her that if she did not remove the posts, they would file a criminal complaint against her. Instead of removing the posts, Madlanga posted a screenshot of Kruijer’s message and argued that she was being intimidated.

This led to further attacks against the three friends.

Magistrate George Mapanga said in his decision that the allegations against the applicants amounted to harassment and were indeed harmful.

“The respondent did not deny that she posted the videos on social media and that they elicited comments amounting to the incitement of violence. The respondent was asked to remove the videos but she did not do so,” said Mapanga.

“The applicants’ identity was disclosed on social media where it was claimed that they are racists. The conduct of the respondent meets the definition of harassment. It was wrong and dangerous to make such claims without any evidence.”

Barry Bateman, spokesperson for the private prosecution unit, says they will continue to assist Lopes, Kruijer and Fraser-Grant in the criminal case against Madlanga.

“The unit stands by its previous statement that false allegations of racism should be treated just as seriously as bona fide allegations of this type of discrimination.

“We are happy that the court found that the allegations of racism against the young people amounted to harassment and that it caused harm. We are confident that a criminal court would reach the same conclusion.”

Bateman says the private prosecution unit was established precisely to ensure equality before the law.

“False allegations of racism should be treated the same as real allegations of racism, because the social and economic consequences for those who are falsely accused are the same as those who are actually guilty of it.”