Words have the power to harm - but does the punishment fit the crime?

Eusebius McKaiser posed a question to listeners on whether a person should be jailed for their what they say.

This comes after convicted racist Vicki Momberg was sentenced to three years imprisonment with one year suspended by the Randburg Magistrates Court last week.

She was videoed shouting racial slurs at a black police officer who was trying to assist her after she was involved in an alleged smash and grab incident.

Momberg was found guilty of four counts of crimen injuria in November 2017.

Callers also shared their thoughts on the matter. Thembi said she thought Momberg was going to get a short sentence and was shocked at first.

But now I am happy she got two years because this will actually teach people what they teach their children (is important). Teaching your child how to say the K-word could actually land them in jail one day and get them a criminal record.

Thembi, caller

She said her sister in law witnessed two young children swearing at a mother and child at the traffic lights but says hopefully now after the Momberg sentencing people will think twice.

Kefilwe, another caller said she is prepared to put her neck on the line to say that you should go to jail.

The reason I say that is that to be gay in South Africa is life-threatening and that is because of the gravitas of the word itself and the amount of hate that people have to people that are not like them and especially amongst Africans. So for me personally, I would like to see somebody going to jail for calling somebody a 'stabani'.

Kefilwe, caller

She said we need to define what the issue is behind the word.

The word in itself might be innocuous just a six letter word, but when you have institutionalised racism and you have people like Mark Lembertiy calling a fully qualified woman, a BEE candidate, someone who didn't deserve the position that she is in and 30 people don't stand up and say no Mark you are wrong, then you basically are going to keep producing more Vicki Mombergs.

Kefilwe, caller

A caller Albert talked about the importance of 'tone'. He said it goes beyond the impact of a word like the K-word. He described how he has experienced negative body language from white people that has felt as abusive. It goes beyond words and also lies in attitude.

They need to change their attitude. They will use the word 'black' and the tone will not be OK.

Albert, caller

Words can scar us emotionally, and can even make us suicidal. But what is the appropriate societal punishment for that?

Eusebius McKaiser, 702/CapeTalk anchor

Listen further below to this insightful debate:


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