Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Criminalization of Party Fouls in Sub-Saharan Africa

If any of you have been wondering what the world is coming to, here is that to which it has come: Sloshing whiskey on the president of South Africa gets you hauled before a magistrate:
The man accused of spilling his drink on President Jacob Zuma during the Durban July last year admitted in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday that he had done so, but said it was unintentional.

“The accused, Daryl Peense, admits that a small quantity of the whisky and water which he was drinking spilled from his glass,” said Peenses’ defence attorney, Jimmy Howse, reading from a sworn statement.

He said Peense was standing over a balcony when this happened.

“The accused was drunk at the time and his drink spilled accidentally. None of the drink spilt [on] the president.

“The accused didn’t intend to cause injury to the president nor to impair his bodily integrity in any way. There has been no complaint by the president,” said Howse, reading from the statement.

Howse said there was no physical contact and no harm was inflicted on the president.

“It is necessary for the alleged victim [Zuma] to at least complain and explain that his bodily integrity was violated. The president has not made any complaint of assault.”
“The accused was drunk at the time” was not, I don't think, necessary to specify.

Without wanting to diminish the importance of protocol, I am worried that Sub-Saharan Africa might be going to far in making party fouls prosecutable. (See also the Malawi fart ban.) How long before we see the headline “Mugabe Arrests Tsvangirai, Says Opposition Leader ‘Forced a Dance Party’”?

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