'Hammer and tongs' and the consequences of defaming someone on social media
Businessman Zahed Sibda last week publicly vowed to hunt down whoever had first posted the video - while denying it was him. This was reiterated by his lawyers this week, who warned anyone who had reposted the video and suggested that Sibda was the man in the window, could look forward to a civil suit and a criminal complaint.
The lawyers are spot on. If Sibda’s claims are correct - that it isn’t him in the video - then he has been desperately and cruelly defamed by nothing less than a mob. It’s the festering downside of the micro media site that many people are starting to realise - that it’s a cruel, cruel place where cyberbullies run amok, with devastating consequences for their victims but none for those who post brazen lies and disinformation.
That’s starting to change, thanks to Penny Sparrow, Adam Catzavelos and Vicky Momberg. Eventually, people are going to find, to their cost, that if you can’t say something to someone’s face, you certainly can’t utter it on another platform - especially not if it can be traced back to you. They’ll also re-learn the old legal maxim that repeating the slur makes you as guilty as the person who first said/produced it (with certain narrow exceptions).
The good news is it couldn’t happen fast enough; the cesspit of spite and malice that is Twitter, in particular, needs to be dredged and cleansed. The bad news for Sibda is that he might have an uphill battle on his hands, proving that it isn’t him in the clip. When he was originally named, his first response was that the amorous assignation had occurred on the floor below his company’s offices.
Now his lawyers are claiming that not only was Sibda not involved but the office, in which the boardroom bonk took place, isn’t even in the company’s building.
What does seem clear though, from a cursory study of the clips posted on social media, is that there appears to be two separate videos - the more viral one taken from a neighbouring building and slightly above, and another from ground level, in front of a building, which zooms into a blurry shot of a couple having sex in an office.
The two incidents don’t appear related at all - if so, possibly two separate couples did it buck naked, almost hard up against a plate glass window - with the light on in the office while it was dark outside.
Was the urge so great that they threw caution to the wind? Or was this just brazen exhibitionism? Whatever the case, they can’t exactly claim invasion of privacy. They’re lucky the police aren’t probing them for public indecency.
For the rest of us, we’ve received a brand new concept of rapacious capitalism in Africa’s richest square mile and - depending on your inclination - probably an aversion to wearing yellow dresses too.
* Ritchie is a journalist and a former newspaper editor.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL.