WATCH: More people could be jailed for racism


Vicky Momberg atends court during an appearance at Randburg Magistrates Court.

JOHANNESBURG – More people could be jailed for racism after Vicki Momberg was sentenced to three years imprisonment, with one year suspended.

The former estate agent was found guilty on four counts of crimen injuria after calling a black police officer the “k- word" repeatedly when he tried to assist her after a smash-and-grab.

In her sentencing, magistrate Pravina Rugoonandan said Momberg’s conduct was irresponsible and disgraceful, but above all, she failed to understand that the use of the word is highly offensive.

The National Prosecution Authority said the landmark ruling has set a precedent for other racial cases.

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Defence lawyer Ulrich Roux says the court took a very strong stance against racism and that Momberg’s lack of remorse played a big part in her receiving a jail sentence.

“Sentencing takes factors into account, the personal circumstances of the accused have to be considered as well the severity of the offence, and this was a severe racial incident,” says Roux.

“She mentioned the word on numerous occasions and it is clear what she intended when she used that racial slur. Then the interest of the community needs to be taken into account.

“The fact that she did not show any remorse played a big part. Our justice system is focused on rehabilitating people more than damning them for the rest of their lives, or in this case for three years in prison.

“The fact that she was not really remorseful and [believed] that her actions were justified until the end, ultimately counted against her.”

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Roux says one of the important aspects of sentencing is the clear message its sends to society. Momberg&39;s sentencing might be a deterrent to potential racial offenders. 

The Human Rights Commission said Momberg’s prison sentence shows the country will not stand for racism, while the Wits Centre for Diversity Studies, which welcomed the sentence, believes ingrained racism and stereotypes can be changed.

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