Suspended sentence for South African man who used ethnic slur

A South African court on Friday handed a two-year suspended sentence to a man who used a racial slur in a beach holiday video.

Adam Catzavelos, 41, who was given a suspended fine of 50,000 rands ($3,200), had pleaded guilty to crimen injuria — causing offense by a racial insult.

He had filmed a selfie, wearing a straw hat and mirrored sunglasses on a pristine beach in Greece. “Amazing sea and not one kaffir insight,” he said to the camera, using an insulting term for a black African. “Fucking heaven on earth… you cannot beat this!”

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The 2018 video went viral and caused much outrage in South Africa, a country that remains deeply divided along racial lines 25 years after Nelson Mandela came to power vowing national reconciliation following the end of white-minority apartheid rule.

Imposing the sentence, magistrate Hleziphe Nkasibe said courts cannot change human behavior, but that Catzavelos pleaded guilty “is a sign of remorse and that is mitigatory”.

Catzavelos told reporters shortly after the sentencing that he was relieved. “I’m very relieved and very grateful that I had a very fair and reasonable judge,” he said outside the magistrate court in Johannesburg’s Randburg northern suburb.

Last year he issued a public apology in court saying he was “truly disgusted, horrified and ashamed of my behavior. I’m deeply remorseful”.

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In 2018 former realtor Vicki Momberg was sentenced to three years in jail repeatedly hurling racist insults including the word “kaffir” at a black policeman.

In 2016, South African estate agent Penny Sparrow likened black beach-goers to monkeys in a social media outburst and was fined 150,000 rands ($9,600).

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