Cyberbullying continues to be a challenge in our society, it’s a problem predominately faced by the younger generation. It occurs where the victims are willfully and repeatedly harmed through communication on electronic devices. Whatever the motivation, cyberbullying effects can be detrimental to its victims and can cause psychological problems and tragically, self-harm or even suicide.  Until recently, South Africa did not have a legislative framework in place that dealt specifically with cyberbullying. To obtain some form of legal recourse, victims can rely on other criminal and/or civil law remedies, such as obtaining a protection order. They can also report a crime incidental to cyberbullying, for example:

  • Crimen iniuria: this refers to where the dignity of the victim is injured, for example, if a child is being teased and humiliated by using improper or racially offensive language.
  • Sexual exploitation and grooming: this refers to threatening someone to obtain something from him/her, such as pornographic images.
  • Criminal defamation: this refers to the intentional and unlawful publication of a matter concerning another person which damages his/her reputation, for example, posting lies about someone on social media for everyone to see.

On 26 May 2021, the Cybercrimes Act 19 of 2020 (“Act”) was finalised (but has not yet came into effect) and is regarded as a major milestone that brings South Africa’s cybersecurity laws in line with international standards

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