How a tweet lands you in trouble, the Basetsana, Romeo Kumalo case

Social media is fast gaining massive pull to not only influence and shape narratives but impact user lives in unimaginable ways.

We look at how a tweet led to a massive court battle, protection orders, and books written disregarding the rule of law.

After a five-year legal battle, author Jackie Phamotse was found guilty of defaming media power couple Basetsana and Romeo Kumalo.

The background and how to land in trouble

The transgression dates back to around 2018 when Phamotse tweeted that she had allegedly overheard a conversation between a businessman Romeo Kumalo and one of her friends about a video showing Romeo in a comprised position, engaging in sexual activities with a man.

The author alleged the activities between Romeo and the man were done in his home with Basetsana privy to the alleged episode.

The tweet read: “Just overheard a painful conversation, a female TV mogul Pleading with one of my girls to not share videos of her drunk and her husband (sic) rimming a celebrity boy!!!!!!!!! What the hell!!!! Kanti, what kind of marriages do we have now!!! I have asked to see this video.”

The comment sent shockwaves across social media platforms with Basetsana confirming how severely the post had impacted her family.

The Kumalo’s later lodged a civil claim against Phamotse and a case of crimen injuria with Basetsana granted a protection order against Phamotse.

The case.

It was the link that appears to have sunk Phamotse’s claim.

Followers of Phamotse on social media reacted to the said tweet, linking the tweet to the Khumalo’s, and a “I love it,” was the response Phamotse gave to the assumption.

Irreparable reputational damage, and hurt were some of the words used by Romeo to describe what the said tweet had done to both his personal and business image.

Fast forward to February 2019, and the author published a book titled I Tweet What I Like So Sue Me, which violated a protection order against her.

The set precedent

The case although relatively topical has solidified a fact.  We cannot tweet what we like.

That is basically asking for trouble in the following ways:


If your tweet contains false statements that harm someone’s reputation, you may be sued for defamation. This includes both libel (written defamation) and slander (spoken defamation).

Privacy Violation

Sharing private or confidential information about an individual without their consent can lead to legal action for invasion of privacy.

Copyright Infringement

If you post copyrighted material without proper authorization or attribution, you could be sued for copyright infringement.

Harassment and Cyberbullying

If your tweet involves harassment, cyberbullying, or threats directed at another person, you could be sued for emotional distress or even face criminal charges.

Hate Speech: Some countries have laws against hate speech. If your tweet promotes hate or discrimination based on factors like race, religion, gender, or nationality, you may be subject to legal action.

False Information

Spreading false information, particularly if it leads to real-world harm, can result in legal consequences. This can include misinformation about health, finance, or other critical matters.


Continuously tweeting or messaging someone in a way that amounts to stalking or harassment can lead to legal action.

To reduce the risk of being sued over a tweet, it’s important to be mindful of what you post, respect the privacy and rights of others, and familiarize yourself with the terms of service of the social media platform you’re using.

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