Jogger who gave the finger to South African presidential motorcade is hooded and detained

Lauren sez, "A 25 year old sociology student at the University of Cape Town gave the finger to the presidential motorcade as they drove past him while he was jogging. President Zuma's bodyguards pulled over, put bundled him into the car and put a bag over his head. Later he was questioned about his political affiliations (just so happens he's a card-carrying member of the ANC) and his house was searched. Democracy Fail."
Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos said yesterday he doubted that insulting the president "would ever constitute crimen injuria". He described crimen injuria as the criminal defamation of another person by saying something without a defence for what had been said.

"The president is subject to the same laws as anyone else. The president is not more important merely because he happens to be in that position."

Asked whether it was legal for one person to show another the middle finger, De Vos said: "Yes, it would be completely legal. You would have been rude. It might show a lack of respect. You would not have defamed me, at best you would have been rude.

"If showing a middle finger was a criminal offence, half of South Africa would find themselves in prison."

Zuma cops lock up jogger (Thanks, Lauren!)

(Image: Smiley middle finger a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike image from quinn.anya's photostream)


  1. Just for the sake of having a reflexion on this instead of a set of opinions: if I gave the finger to a judge in court in pretty much any country, what would happen? Yet, it is not the person I’d offend but justice itself, or so they say. Is flipping the president the same as flipping the country then. Should it be allowed?

    1. If you’re in court, you’re asked to behave to a standard of decorum. It’s not a public place. The judge can have you removed for disruptive behavior or hold you in contempt of court because either (a) you’re in court for breaking another law or (b) you’re in the court as an observer/participant at the pleasure of the court.

      This is very different from being outside, in a public place, and exercising your right to free expression and, especially, political protest.

  2. You bet it should be allowed. If Justice or Democracy are gonna freak out over a little finger then these institutions are impostors in need of a good old fashioned white knuckled double bird with extra cheese.

  3. It’s not crimen injuria. It’s lèse majesté. Contempt of the monarch is contempt of the state.

    Oh, a president isn’t a monarch, you say? If it quacks like a duck….

  4. We call these cops the “blue light brigade”. ANC VIP’s are regularly whizzed along our roads in large black vehicles filled with aggressive police.

    Citizens who manage to annoy them (normally by not moving aside fast enough) are often accosted. A woman in Durban had her tires shot out. Others have also been arrested (and beaten).

    If you’re interested take a watch this video from a local show:

  5. Two things to bear in mind:
    1) He was not aware of who he was flipping the bird at. All he saw was yet another siren-blaring VIP motorcade, occupants made anonymous by tinted windows.
    2) Assuming the bodyguards are actually meant to protect the person of the President, surely they are in dereliction of duty here? Were I the Prez, I’d be mighty aggrieved at this lot stopping to hassle a jogger instead of watching my back! Would the US Secret Service have responded in like manner?

  6. Certainly a civi rights fail, but not a democracy fail.

    Plenty of democracies willing to bag and detain you, Mr B/Tuttle.

  7. I’m reminded of the former governor of Maryland who:
    “Once, after a woman in her car gestured to him with her middle finger, he tracked down her address through Motor Vehicle Administration records and wrote her: “Your action only exceeds the ugliness of your face. Have a nice day!”

    After another voter wrote him a negative letter, he dispatched state troopers to the man’s home to harass the man in person. ”

  8. From the article:

    “Mnisi said: “In terms of the law, no person is permitted to use foul language, swear at another individual, especially as such conduct may lead to promoting hate conduct in the Republic. Again, resisting arrest by police is also a punishable offence. That is the bottom line.”

    When asked which law he was referring to, Mnisi said he was not aware of the “specific act” and added “morally, you just can’t swear at people”.

    The people of South Africa are lucky to have people such as Mnisi working so hard to maintain moral standards.

  9. The ANC are going to be up shit creek without a paddle once the “Hey, at least we aren’t the racist apartheid government!” goodwill wears off, and they have to start governing…

  10. The ANC post-apartheid is a really sad tale. South Africa will be a better place when their strangle hold on politics slips. South Africa needs real opposition parties other than a few token (comparatively) rich white dude parties. There are a lot of well meaning people in the ANC, but the elite that run the party run it like the mafia, enriching and protecting themselves while the rest of South Africa burns.

  11. The president may not have defamed, but it sounds like a human rights violation anyway

    “No one shall be subjected … to attacks upon his honour and reputation.

  12. Shit. When I lived in DC, I used to give the Bush/Cheney motorcade/helicopter the one-finger salute every time! God Bless America!

  13. What’s really depressing is that the vast majority of the ANC’s supporters don’t see anything wrong with this, or any other civil rights violation by authorities.

  14. The ANC should go get fucked for their non action on Zimbabwe. They are about the only group who has any chance of doing anything substantial to change Mugabe’s grip yet they sit, wait and continue to reap the benefits.

    Can someone please mass produce some shirts for the World Cup? Imagine a stadium full of t-shirts saying “FUCK YOU ZUMA”. Ah, it would be beautiful.

  15. I can only imagine being a jogger, looking at a quite standard looking limousine with window tinting, being unable to see inside as well as being annoyed by the sound of the preceding motorcade. With just s quick snap of anger, he says the wrong things – and noticeably to the wrong people. Absolutely splendid.

Comments are closed.