Sentencing of Adam Catzavelos to get under way

Adam Catzavelos will learn on Friday whether he will spend time behind bars for a racist video that went viral.
Adam Catzavelos will learn on Friday whether he will spend time behind bars for a racist video that went viral.
Image: ALON SKUY/Sunday Times

Adam Catzavelos, who was convicted of crimen injuria, will learn on Friday whether he will get jail time for his use of the k-word when referring to black people.

He is set to appear in the Randburg Magistrate's Court.

The Johannesburg businessman shot to fame after he filmed himself referring to black people using the k-word during a holiday in Greece in December 2018. In it, he bragged about there not being a single “k****r in sight” on the beach.

Catzavelos pleaded guilty to, and was convicted of, crimen injuria for the racist rant. He admitted in his plea to using the offensive word and conceded that it impaired the dignity of others.

Earlier this month, Catzavelos expressed remorse for his actions.

In mitigation of sentence, he testified he had become a “better” person since doing community service at the Seth Mazibuko Foundation, in Soweto, where he had reportedly completed 100 hours of community service.

Catzavelos said the foundation had taught him a lot about black people's struggles and had taken him to slain political activist Chris Hani's grave.

He also got to learn about Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko, who died in police custody.

He said he had told the “Gogos” and “Mkhulus” that he worked with, that he would go back to see them even after his community service was over.

Some of the elderly people from the foundation had come to court to support him, saying they had since renamed the reformed man Mxolisi, which means the one who asks for forgiveness.

The foundation's founder, Seth Mazibuko, described Catzavelos as a “Saul becoming a Paul”.

He said he was initially reluctant to work with Catzavelos.

“It took me time. I asked myself if I want to work with a man whose grandparents might have used the word,” Mazibuko said.

He demonstrated to Catzavelos how he himself was tortured and called the k-word during apartheid. Catzavelos did not know who Steve Biko was before doing community service, Mazibuko said.

Mazibuko told the court that a jail term would not serve any purpose.

“I'd like to use Adam more for reconciliation. I would like to use Adam more to apologise to the people of South Africa,” said Mazibuko.

He said though he had heard about the video, he had not seen it until Catzavelos showed it to him. It made him “angry and bitter”, he said.

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