JOHANNESBURG (AFP) — 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 $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 in sight,” he said to the camera, using an insulting term used to describe black South Africans during the country’s racist system of apartheid that ended in 1994. “Fucking heaven on earth… you cannot beat this!”
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.” Magistrate Hleziphi Mkhasibe
The five-year suspension of the sentence means it will be immediately implemented if Catzavelos commits another racist act.
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 public apology in court saying he was “truly disgusted, horrified and ashamed of my behavior. I’m deeply remorseful.” Both he and his wife had lost their jobs amid the outrage over the video.
South African courts have sentenced people for racist behavior in the past.
In 2018 former realtor Vicki Momberg was sentenced to three years in jail after repeatedly hurling racist insults including the word “kaffir” at a black policeman who had come to her aid.
In 2016, South African estate agent Penny Sparrow likened black beach-goers to monkeys in a social media outburst and was fined $9,600.
© Agence France-Presse