NEWS & ANALYSIS

SAJBD welcomes apology over antisemitic comments

This relates to remarks made on a Whatsapp group, Sneakerheads

SAJBD welcomes apology over antisemitic comments

19 July 2018

At a meeting last night held at Ian Levitt Attorneys in Sandton, the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) withdrew criminal charges against two Johannesburg men.  This followed a settlement agreement reached between the parties. 

The charges laid against Tameez Seedat and Muhammad Hattia were in response to threatening and antisemitic comments that they made on a Whatsapp group, Sneakerheads.   

Senior SAJBD representatives, including the National Chairman Shaun Zagnoev, as well as one of the administrators of the Sneakerheads group (who cannot be named as he is a minor), was present. 

Zagnoev said that the meeting had been a very moving one for all concerned. There had been no doubt that both Seedat and Hattia were genuinely remorseful for what they had done and wished only to make amends. The comments made by family members who accompanied them likewise showed a sincere desire to address whatever harm had been done and move forward in a spirit of peace and reconciliation.   

The SAJBD welcomes the settlement. We are committed to building a South Africa where people accept and respect the right of others to hold different viewpoints, irrespective of whether or not we agree with them. We are further encouraged by the sincerity and goodwill that emerged during the meeting held between the parties and their legal representatives last night. That meeting took place immediately following Mandela Day, and was informed throughout by the spirit of reconciliation that Nelson Mandela epitomised. 

The administrator of the Sneakerhead whatsapp group, said that he had felt comfortable accepting the apologies, since those responsible genuinely regretted their actions. He further remarked on how positive a difference it made for those in conflict with each other simply to meet face to face to resolve the issues between them.

In terms of the agreement, Hattia and Seedat expressed sincere regret at having posted the comments, and unequivocally apologized in writing to the South African Jewish community and to the Jewish members of the Sneakerheads group.  It was also agreed that both would attend a programme at the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre to learn more about the importance of fighting bigotry and intolerance.

The SAJBD will continue with its legal action against Matome Letsoalo, who has enthusiastically continued his attacks against the Jewish community on social media (and even opened a new twitter account for this express purpose).

Issued by Charisse Zeifert, SA Jewish Board of Deputies, 19 July 2018