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Last Updated: Friday, 6 May, 2005, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
SA woman fined for race hate SMS
Person sending a text message
Ms Ncusane's self-esteem was damaged by the text, the magistrate said
A South African woman has been told to pay damages of 2,000 rand ($333) after sending a racially offensive SMS.

Estate agent Robin Neo sent a text message telling black house-hunter Ruth Ncusane to "go back to the townships", Durban's Equality Court was told.

A justice department spokesman said it was the first time one of South Africa's 220 Equality Courts had ruled on a case involving text messages.

The courts, set up in 2003, deal with hate speech and discrimination.

As well as the damages, Ms Neo was ordered to write a letter of apology to Ms Ncusane.

Faster justice

Ms Ncusane said she received the offensive text after enquiring about a flat for rent.

Ms Neo said she had been racially abused first by Ms Ncusane over the telephone.

But magistrate Siphephelo Luthuli ruled in favour of Ms Ncusane and said her self-esteem had been "damaged", reports The Mercury newspaper.

Justice Department Spokesman Sam Srasiuba told the BBC News website that the Equality Courts had been set up because such cases would take too long if they had to go before the civil courts.

"The Equality Courts are a specialised form of court that needs specialised expertise," he said.

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