Judge urges govt to clampdown social media

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Mohalenyane Phakela

HIGH Court Judge Thamsanqa Nomngcongo has called for government action to “sanitise” what he describes as the “gutter social media”.

Justice Nomngcongo said this while delivering judgement in murder-accused former First Lady ‘Maesaiah Thabane’s bail application on Monday. While granting ‘Maesaiah bail, Justice Nomngcongo said he would not be swayed by public opinion on the case.

Although he did not make any specific references to what was being said about him  on social media platforms over his handling of the bail application,  the social media had been awash with claims that the judge  had delayed his verdict because he was in negotiations with the Thabane family to free ‘Maesaiah on bail.

The claims were made last week after Justice Nomngcongo failed to deliver the verdict on 22 June 2020 and again on the 23rd and 27th of June due to ill-health.

Some social media users then accused the judge of delaying the verdict to negotiate a bribe from the Thabane family in exchange for freeing ‘Maesaiah.

“They should give Thamsanqa his balance so that he can wrap up his work,” one Facebook user posted.

Another Facebook user wrote, “the law department (judiciary) is captured” in response to a post by another user who had said that the verdict could not be delivered because Justice Nomngcongo was sick.

Even after the verdict was delivered on Monday, many people who were unhappy with the granting of bail took to social media to accuse Justice Nomngcongo of receiving bribes to rule in her favour.

While delivering his judgement on Monday, Justice Nomngcongo said although the public had a right to their views, he had “no regard for the gutter social media which has no interest in the truth and justice which the petitioner has come here to seek”.

“Theirs (social media users) is just to paddle salacious matters,” said Justice Nomngcongo.

“Like sewer rats, I think those rats in the gutter that paddle this misinformation must be sanitised. I am making a call to those responsible. You must sanitise the gutter social media,” Justice Nomngcongo said.

His comments have attracted even more criticism from social media users who view them as an attempt to muzzle robust public debate on important issues.

 

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