Sparrow apologises, fined R5 000

KwaZulu-Natal estate agent Penny Sparrow has apologised for comparing black people to monkeys.

She appeared before magistrate Vincent Hlatshwayo in the Scottburgh Magistrate’s Court where she pleaded guilty to a charge of crimen injuria.

She was fined R5 000 or 12 months’ imprisonment, and also sentenced to two years’ imprisonment suspended for five years on condition she is not convicted of crimen injuria during the period of suspension.

She also had to tender a public apology in court and on Facebook.

Sparrow asked to pay the fine in instalments. She paid the first R1 000 yesterday and agreed to pay four instalments of R1 000.

In her apology read in court, a tearful Sparrow said: “I wish to make a public apology for my thoughtless behaviour.

“I have hurt the feelings of my fellow South Africans. I realise that what I have done is wrong. I am very sorry. It is difficult to put into words the regret I feel.

“I will from now strive to be a better citizen, respecting others and working towards making our country a better place to live in, a place where we are accepting of each other, a place we can all call home.

“I accept that by comparing black people to monkeys in my Facebook post earlier this year I have impaired the dignity of African people.”

Hlatshwayo said the offence reminded people of the past.

“The society of South Africa rejects your conduct on the day in question. This was made clear by the organised march where people expressed their dissatisfaction.

“We are now 20 years into democracy. We do not want to be reminded of the past. We want our children to live in a new South Africa for which some of us have fought dearly, for which most of us are striving for and we cannot allow to be taken back to the years of suffering which was not enjoyed by the majority of the country.

“You have pleaded guilty and apologised to the community of South Africa. To me, apology is very important. I believe I am seeing the truth in that it’s coming from the bottom of your heart,” he said.

In June, the Equality Court convicted Sparrow of hate speech and ordered her to pay R150 000 to the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation.