jessicaleandra

Model loses contest title, sponsorships over racist tweet

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Jessica Leandra Dos Santos may have been the victim of sexual harassment in South Africa, but a tweet about the incident certainly hasn’t done her any favors.

The model has lost sponsors and her men’s magazine modelling contest title over the tweet, which was posted Thursday and used the derogatory term “kaffir.”

It read, “Just, well took on a on arrogant and disrespectful kaffir inside Spar [a supermarket]. Should have punched him, should have.” The tweet has since been deleted.

After receiving criticism from some of her followers, she wrote, “Would u all stop! These are the kinds of people that land up raping young girls of our country! I wasn't going to let him get away with it.”

In another post, the 20-year-old tried to explain her actions: “@Hypress @jesslevitt Tweeted with anger after an incident last night. Forget it pls, I dnt stand still against sexual harassment, thats all.”

Dos Santos published a blog post Friday morning, in which she apologized and said she acted out of “pure anger.”

The offending tweet has already proven costly for Dos Santos, having lost her sponsorship deal with supplement company Quick Trim SA and her title as winner of the FHM Modelbook 2011 contest. The “horrified” magazine has removed all images of Dos Santos from its website as well.

“FHM was appalled by Jessica Leandra Dos Santos’ racist Tweets and would like to formally announce that she has been stripped of her title as winner of the FHM Modelbook 2011 competition with immediate effect,” wrote FHM South Africa Editor Brendan Cooper.

“It’s important to us that it is noted that she in no way represents the magazine; she was merely the winner of an online poll we ran, and that we totally distance ourselves from her blatantly racist comments.”

The outrage South Africans expressed towards Dos Santos led to the derogatory term “kaffir” trending on Twitter in South Africa on Friday. Meanwhile, some other tweeters discovered a previous tweet by Dos Santos, where she used the term “rude African monkeys” in reference to a gas station attendant.

Things still may get worse for the model. The Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 2000 aims to prevent hate speech, including including calling people names like “kaffir.”

An associate from law firm Webber Wentzel warned recently that South Africans can be charged with crimen injuria or hate speech for making racist comments on Facebook or Twitter. Offenders face a jail sentence

Several Twitter community members, including social activist Mabine Seabe, reported Dos Santos to the Human Rights Commission.

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