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Outing rapists on social media is 'digital vigilantism'

24 November 2015 12:50 PM

Stephen Grootes and Redi Tlhabi explore whether its appropriate for rape victims to name and shame their assailant on social media.

Following the alleged attempted rape that took place at the University of Cape Town, where a student had named a man she says allegedly raped her on Twitter, CapeTalk/702 Redi Tlhabi on Tuesday explored the legalities of naming and shaming rapists.

TimesLive reported that rape victims are turning to social media to "out" their attackers because they were desperate for justice.

On The Midday Report, Stephen Grootes spoke to Media Law Consultant, Emma Sadleir about the legalities around what she calls 'digital vigilantism'.

Listen to the conversation below:

I think it is a case of absolute last resort. In most instances, people have been failed by police or justice system. I call this digital vigilantism, it’s taking the law into your own hands. More concerning to me is the number of people who jump on the bandwagon and share this, without knowledge of whether this is true or not.

Emma Sadleir, Media Law Consultant

I understand how social media can be used to get justice but I am so concerned that people may be using it for the wrong reasons.

Emma Sadleir, Media Law Consultant

A person is not allowed to be named in the media until they have appeared in court. Effectively what you are doing by outing their attackers on social media is also a breach of criminal procedure. A person who has been accused [on social media] could sue for defamation because they would effectively be found guilty by civil action. You would have to prove if this [accusation] is true.

Emma Sadleir, Media Law Consultant

Naming and shaming rapists on social media - a form of social justice?

CapeTalk/702 listeners also voiced out their views on this matter on the open line.

Going to social media is a form of finding social justice for yourself.

Thando in Midrand

I personally think it’s suicidal and stupid to post things like rape on social media because there are people who will do it just to smear other people

Wesley in Edenvale

Listen to other views on the Redi Tlhabi Show:

Here are some of the twitter responses to the topic:


24 November 2015 12:50 PM