Public Violence Caught on Camera – Social Media Update

By Verlie Oosthuizen, Head of Social Media Law

The deputy minister of education was recently caught on camera providing the worst possible example to the young people of South Africa. Whilst out for a night on the town in Johannesburg he got into an altercation with a female which ended with him assaulting her outside a restaurant. He has tried to minimize his actions somewhat by saying that he reacted to “extreme provocation”…

The reality is that he is a cabinet minister which means that he is required, by virtue of his position, to be a fit and proper person. It is unlikely that any scenario where a man is seen beating a woman in this manner could be regarded as a “fit and proper person”. Also as a public figure he has to accept that the levels of privacy that he can reasonably expect are more limited than that of an ordinary citizen. In this case anyway, he was in a public space and so the amount of privacy anyone can expect is reduced.

Everyone, and more especially public figures, need to remember that everyone with a smartphone is potentially a cameraman and unruly behavior is likely to be recorded and posted online. If your conduct is indefensible without cameras recording you then it will be likely to attract condemnation if it is recorded and posted online. And if you are supposed to be at the highest level of authority in the country and you behave like that on your “down time” then you should not expect too much sympathy from your countrymen.

For more information on the above contact:

Verlie Oosthuizen, Head of Social Media Law, Partner in the Employment Law department

voosthuizen@wylie.co.za

+27 31 575 7206