Reuters International

By Zimasa Mpemnyama

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A South African court on Friday ordered a woman to pay 150,000 rand (6,937 pounds) to charity after she was found guilty of hate speech for referring to blacks as "monkeys", News24 reported.

The case is the latest in a string of similar incidents that have laid bare the racial tensions that endure more than two decades after the end of apartheid rule.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) brought charges against former estate agent Penny Sparrow after she caused public outrage by saying on her Facebook page that blacks made beaches dirty like "wild monkeys".

Under apartheid law, South African beaches were racially segregated, with beaches like the one Sparrow referred to, reserved solely for whites.

"Her words convey the message both explicitly and implicitly to the reader that black people are not worthy of being described as human beings," Umzinto Equality Court Magistrate Irfaan Khalil was quoted as saying on News24.

Khalil ordered Sparrow to pay the fine within 60 days. Sparrow's daughter, who represented her in court, said her mother was too sick to attend and fears for her life.

The ANC hailed the ruling as a victory for democracy.

"It is unfortunate that 22 years into democracy, racists are emboldened to vent their views on public platforms. This judgement serves as a reminder that such behaviour will not be tolerated," the ANC said in a statement.

Sparrow had been a member of the official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), but her membership was revoked after her comments went viral. The DA has a strong following among white South Africans.

Standard Bank economist Chris Hart resigned after he tweeted in January that black people had "a sense of entitlement and hatred towards minorities".

White senior judge Mabel Jansen was publicly criticised over comments she made last month about black culture and rape.

(Editing by Joe Brock and Angus MacSwan)

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