Suspended sentence for man behind Hindu ‘idol worshipers’ Facebook post

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Suspended sentence for man behind Hindu ‘idol worshipers’ Facebook post

Taschica Pillay | 2017-03-27 12:21:06.0

“I could strangle you morons with my bare hands and derive great pleasure in watching your face turn blue and your tongue pop out‚” Kriel. File photo

Image by: DADO RUVIC
/

REUTERS

Political and religious leaders were unhappy with the suspended sentenced handed down to a Durban man for his racist comments on social media.

Dawie Kriel‚ 59‚ from the Bluff‚ who described Hindus on social media last year as idol worshippers was sentenced in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Monday to a fine of R6000 or 12 months imprisonment suspended for five years.

A case of crimen injuria was brought against Kriel by the DA and ANC after his Facebook post went viral and caused outrage. In the post‚ he complained that fireworks were imported into the country in containers‚ despite complaints each year about the noise they created.

Kriel attacked President Jacob Zuma for allowing the “Gupta’s (sic) and company” a licence to import fireworks. He also ridiculed “idol” worship.

His post read: “To those idol worshippers and devil disciples who buy them in the name of religion‚” before making derogatory and offensive remarks about Hindus.

“I could strangle you morons with my bare hands and derive great pleasure in watching your face turn blue and your tongue pop out‚” he added.

He later publicly apologised. “Anger is not an excuse and I realise the foolishness of my remarks‚” he posted a day after his outburst on Facebook.

Magistrate Themba Sishi said Kriel’s social media post was demeaning‚ humiliating and stereotyped the Hindu faith which went against the values of the Constitution.

“His comments went global and invoked a sense of shock‚ anger and disgust‚” said Sishi.

He said community interests were important when the court considered a sentence.

“The victims of crime expressed their concerns. The rights that were infringed by Mr Kriel are protected by the Constitution. Such comments have the effect of derailing efforts of nation building and social cohesion. In the recent past such incidents have increased‚” said Sishi.

He said the state believed the remorse expressed by Kriel was not genuine.

“The court accepts Kriel’s personal circumstances. The seriousness of the crime and interests of community far outway Kriel’s personal circumstances. The court has considered various sentencing option.

“He cannot afford to pay a fine as he is unemployed. He is a first offender and imprisonment will serve no purpose in rehabilitation‚” said Sishi before imposing a suspended sentence.

DA provincial leader Zwakele Mncwango was disappointed with the sentence‚ saying Kriel had got off scot-free.

“The court made a strong argument about the case and even said the apology was not genuine because it came after the outcry by the community. And for the court to come with such a sentence‚ he is just walking free. It won’t send a strong signal to those who are still perpetuating this kind of crime. He should have been ordered to do community service‚” said Mncwango.

Ashwin Trikamjee‚ head of the SA Hindu Maha Sabha‚ said the sentence of R6000 was substantial and probably meets the demand of justice‚ however many people would be unhappy that the sentence was suspended.

“A suspended sentence‚ whilst it is a sword of Damocles over one’s head‚ does not quite mete out punishment. It does not have the effect of sending a message to society that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated‚” said Trikamjee.

– TMG Digital/The Times



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