In a controversial and unbelievable ruling, Germiston magistrate Dipuo Mputla found that referring to a white man as a k-word is more degrading than using it to describe a Black man.

This comes after Mputla found retired Lieutenant-Colonel Johannes Kemp guilty of crimen injuria (a wilful injury to someone’s dignity, caused by the use of obscene or racially offensive language or gestures) for calling businessman Mark Maitland the k-word almost a decade ago.

In 2008, Kemp, who was part of a Pretoria-based organised crime unit, raided Maitland’s house on suspicion of him being in possession of stolen property.  During the raid, Kemp took Maitland to his bank and made him hand over the contents of his safety deposit boxes, which included explicit videos of him and his fiancée. It was while viewing these tapes that Kemp, in the presence of two Black police officers, referred to Maitland as a k-word.

Maitland decided to press charges against Kemp, but the National Prosecuting Authority declined the case.  Maitland then sought a private prosecution, which was led by former NPA acting head Mokotedi Mpshe.

During his testimony, Kemp denied calling Maitland the k-word, and stated that if he had used the word, he did not do so with the intention of impairing Maitland’s dignity.

As part of her ruling, magistrate Mputla said, “…referring to a white man as k****r could be even more injurious since the word is commonly used in reference to black people.”

In speaking to the Sunday Times, Maitland said that his legal team will argue that Kemp should be jailed for his use of the K-word.

“We need to set a precedent here, and send a message to the remaining racist police out there,” Maitland said. “There are good police out there and the two officers who testified for me showed real bravery. But the officers who are racist and abuse their power need to know there will be consequences.”

With the Prevention of Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill now being tabled in Parliament, anyone who commits a verbal or physical attack that is found to be racist or hateful could face up to 3 years in prison.