21 October 2019
Various explicit videos and pictures of a woman whom many claim to be Fiona Viotti, the Bishops Diocesan College water polo coach who resigned last week amid allegations of a sexual affair with a matric pupil, have been doing the rounds on social media and WhatsApp since the story broke last week.
William Booth, Viotti's attorney, consequently warned that it was illegal to distribute such material.
If you were wondering how serious this really is, read on. According to the Films and Publication Act that was signed into law recently, any person who knowingly distributes private sexual photos and films in any medium including the internet and social media, without prior consent of the person or persons in the sexual photos and films and with the intention to cause the person harm, can be found guilty of a criminal offence and be held liable, if found guilty, to a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years or a fine not exceeding R150 000.
Should the person or persons in the films or photographs be identified or identifiable, the term of maximum imprisonment goes up to four years and the fine to R300 000. However, the public should remember that these sanctions are only applicable in the Criminal Courts, and a person who shared said film or photo can be held liable for damages in the Civil Court too.
How do you know though, if a film or photo is classified a private? That depends on the context in which the photo or film was taken, as it and will be classified as sexual if such film or photo shows parts of the female breasts, anus, genitals or pubic area or shows something that a reasonable person would consider to be sexual because of the nature of the photo or film.
Precisely because the definition is so wide, it’s best to steer clear, and refrain entirely from sharing these types of photos or films.