NEWS
19/06/2018 14:37 SAST | Updated 19/06/2018 21:37 SAST

'Haffajee Could Lay Criminal Charges Over Twitter Threat' – Expert

A direct message from a Twitter user calling HuffPost editor-at-large Ferial Haffajee 'a bitch' who deserves 'a bullet in [her] head' could be actionable, says a lawyer.

Lawyer and partner at Webber Wentzel Dario Milo says HuffPost editor-at-large Ferial Haffajee has options, if she wants to hold the person who sent her death threats on social media accountable.

"Ferial has both civil remedies available and the right to lay criminal charges," he said.

On Monday, Haffajee revealed that she had received a direct message from a Twitter user who said she should "stop misleading people", called her a "bitch", and said she deserves "a bullet in [her] head".

"...But nothing beats the nasty of Twitter and social media. This wonderful tool to share, to build community and virality has turned mean. It peddles hate and the impact is worse, in my experience, because it is so personal," she said in an article.

Haffajee also raised concerns about a "new front of hate for women journalists", which is not only prevalent in South Africa, but around the world.

"There would be a clear right on the part of Ferial to lay a criminal complaint and the police and ultimately the prosecutor should prosecute this, and they should immediately address this."Dario Milo

According to Milo, the direct message is clearly a criminal act.

"There is no protection for speech that incites people to do harm or intimidation, and there is no protection for harassment," he explained, adding that the person responsible for the threats could be prosecuted.

"There would be a clear right on the part of Ferial to lay a criminal complaint. The police, and ultimately the prosecutor, should prosecute this, and they should immediately address this," he elaborated.

Getting an interdict is another option that she has.

"Ferial could take steps to get an interdict against the person involved — especially if the person is known — and the interdict would be in the nature of a protection order.

"And you would get an interdict which would call upon the person to delete this tweet, to apologise, to ensure that it is not repeated — and if that is disobeyed there could be in contempt of court application; one of the consequences of which could be jail time."