Vicki Momberg is at it again, except she’s still singing the same old song
Convicted racist is trying to appeal her crimen injuria ruling using arguments similar to the ones in her failed defence
Convicted racist estate agent Vicki Momberg is appealing her crimen injuria conviction and sentence by claiming the state tampered with evidence, failed to listen to her expert’s testimony, and that she wasn’t in control of her faculties when she used the k-word 48 times against police officers trying to assist her.
Momberg was convicted on four counts of crimen injuria in 2018, for verbally assaulting the SAPS officers and 10111 operators trying to assist her after a smash-and-grab incident in 2016.
The presiding magistrate in the Randburg Magistrate’s court, Pravina Rugoonandan, sentenced Momberg to an effective two years in prison for the crimes, although after a short prison stay she was granted bail once she was granted leave to appeal in 2018. She has now launched the appeal, at the High Court in Johannesburg, to overturn her conviction and a sentence she has claimed was shockingly inappropriate.
On Monday, before a panel consisting of judges Viwe Notshe and Willem van der Linde, Momberg was initially set to represent herself, after her previous lawyer, Kingdom Onah, dropped her as a client late in 2018. At least two other legal representatives have also withdrawn from representing Momberg, claiming they had difficulty working with her.
On Monday morning, Momberg entered the courtroom and immediately began heckling the former prosecutor, Yusuf Baba, who had arrived to monitor the appeal case. In earshot of journalists in the gallery, she told Baba that she had spoken with his neighbour, and that he should “watch what (he) says”. Baba was unfazed, which prompted the 48-year-old to start berating journalists in attendance, telling them their stories were biased, threatening to sue them and then using her phone to take photos of them in the court gallery.
Appearing on her behalf on Monday was also new advocate, Anesh Sukdeo, and attorney, Wesley Rogers. Sukdeo told the judges he wished an opportunity to rework the appeal, as Momberg had put together her heads of argument by herself.
“We believe it is in the interest of justice that this is dealt with by professionals and not a lay person,” he said.
The state, represented by Jacqui Drotsky, said while it was ready to oppose the appeal application, it understood why a postponement could be necessary. The case was postponed to June to allow Momberg’s legal team an opportunity to fully familiarise themselves with the case, so the appeal could be argued properly.
Throughout her criminal trial Momberg attempted to argue she was in such a state of panic following the smash-and-grab that she had no control of her actions, a defence known to the court as sane automatism or non-pathological criminal incapacity.
Ultimately, Rugoonandan believed this was an insufficient defence, and ruled that Momberg had full control of her faculties when she was dishing out the dozens of slurs to her victims.
In her written head of arguments for the current appeal, Momberg has tried to argue that the evidence presented to the court, namely videos and audio recordings of her shouting at police in person and on the phone, were not proven as authentic, and could have been tampered with.
However, in the state’s responding written arguments, Drotsky recalled the testimony of Ramasela Mmamolomo, who testified on behalf of 10111 during Momberg’s trial, that the police phone line’s voice logger, SA Vojavu, accurately records all complaints called in.
The logger showed that the recording of Momberg’s racist rant was legitimate and linked to her cellphone number. Regarding the video evidence taken of Momberg by police officers, Drotsky recalled the oral evidence of police officer Balisia Subroyan, who admitted to taking the footage and immediately submitting it as evidence. “The authenticity of these recordings were never placed into dispute,” she wrote.
Momberg has also tried to argue that Rugoonandan’s ruling on her failure to prove sane automatism was incorrect. However, Drotsky pointed out that if Momberg genuinely was unaware of her actions and surroundings, she was still able to recall, in great detail, the circumstances of the night she verbally assaulted the police officers.
She then pointed out that Momberg was able to dial 10111 on numerous occasions while driving and explain what happened to police, was able to create a timeline of events, was driving, and expressed dissatisfaction with the police’s service, meaning she could act voluntarily.
Momberg has also argued that the magistrate’s court failed to fully take her own expert’s testimony into account. She had summoned a doctor – who wasn’t psychiatrically trained – to state that she was not aware of her actions on the night of the crime. However, the state has insisted the doctor did not provide expert evidence, and the court was right to disregard what he said.
“It is respectfully submitted that the court a quo (magistrate Rugoonandan) was correct in her judgment in stating that the k-word is the most notorious word in our country’s history. The k-word in its very nature is a derogatory, offensive word, which constitutes hate crime,” wrote Drotsky in relation to Momberg’s argument that there was no criminal intent in her using the racial slur.
While Momberg was trying to appeal her sentence – claiming it was inappropriate and too harsh – the state argued that the magistrate had been reasonable in her sentence, and that she had taken into account the public interest in the case, as well as the court’s responsibility to combat racism.
“The court ... correctly found that she shows no remorse and refuses to acknowledge and take full responsibility for her actions,” wrote Drotsky.