A social media law expert has warned that any publication or sharing of sexual pictures or videos without consent from the owner of the content is illegal in South Africa and could land you in jail.
Lerato Ntwampe, an attorney and a social media legal consultant, says revenge porn or sextortion is a crime under the Films and Publications Amendment Act.
Ntwampe says perpetrators of revenge porn could face a fine not exceeding R150 000 or jail time not beyond a period of two years, or both a fine and imprisonment.
“And if the individual is identified and identifiable on the content that is shared without the permission, if the perpetrator is found guilty by a court of law – the person may also be fined a fine not exceeding R300 000 or face imprisonment not exceeding four years or both jail time and a fine,” Ntwampe said in an interview with SAfm.
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She said sharing viral sexual pictures or videos on your social media feed without the permission of the victim is also illegal.
“It’s something that we call chain of publication. Please do not retweet it or share it with other people because you’re also further embarrassing or shaming the victim.
“Instead of retweeting or reposting it, report it so that social media platforms can also come to the party and ensure that content is removed.”
Ntwampe’s advice comes in the wake of an explicit sexual video involving the Speaker of the Free State Provincial Legislature, Zanele Sifuba.
Sifuba on Wednesday, confirmed she had opened a civil case after the explicit sexual video of her pleasuring herself, while on a video call with an unknown man, was leaked on social media.
The speaker’s spokesperson, Life Mokone, said the originator of the sex video allegedly made numerous attempts to extort money from her, but she refused to be blackmailed into paying.
Mokone said the person who leaked the video apparently wanted to tarnish Sifuba’s character ahead of the Free State ANC’s provincial elective conference.
“In such a desperate attempt to convince the Speaker to pay the ransom, this person using multiple cellular lines, confessed that political players around the Speaker paid him to fabricate sensual content in order to assist them to assassinate her character,” he said.
In terms of the Cybercrimes Act, which was partially enacted into law last year, Ntwampe said any person who unlawfully or intentionally leaks private sexual pictures or videos could face jail time not longer than three years or a fine.
However, the fine has not been quantified yet.
“If the picture was taken against the person’s will, they do also have recourse in a civil case claiming damages for invasion of privacy,” Ntwampe said,
While privacy is not an absolute right, Ntwampe added the right to privacy would be protected by the courts if the complaint could demonstrate that they did not give permission to be taken pictures or recorded.
The other option for cybercrime victims is laying a criminal complaint with police of crimen injuria.
As a common law offence, crimen injuria consists of unlawfully and intentionally impairing the dignity or privacy of another person.
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