Saturday, May 21, 2011

Malema tearing SA apart


ANCYL leader Julius Malema was "tearing" the country apart, the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, sitting as the Equality Court, heard on Friday. 

"Mr Malema is tearing apart different societies of this country," lawyer for farmers' body Tau-SA Roelof Du Plessis said in closing arguments at Malema's hate speech trial.

He said if Nelson Mandela, regarded as a unifying figure, were still president the matter would not be in court.

A number of Mandela's quotes on democracy and respect for all South Africans were read to the court.

"A guiding principle in our search for and establishment of a non-racial inclusive democracy in our country has been that there are good men and women to be found in all groups and from all sectors of society; and that in an open and free society those South Africans will come together to jointly and co-operatively realise the common good," Du Plessis read.

"This did not happen with the singing of the song [dubula ibhunu]," he added.

Another quote read was: "I wanted South Africa to see that I loved even my enemies while I hated the system that turned us against one another."

Du Plessis said he did not see that train of thought in Malema.

"The first founding stone of our new country is national reconciliation and national unity," Du Plessis read.

"Well my lord, this is under threat," he told Judge Collin Lamont.

Du Plessis said even after criticism and objections over the "shoot the boer" song, Malema continued singing it.

"Any person who heard him sing it again will reasonably come to the conclusion that the intent by Mr Malema was to hurt or cause harm."

He told Lamont he was being asked to "stamp out hate speech".


Earlier in the day Gerta Engelbrecht, lawyer for civil rights group AfriForum, which brought the case against Malema, said the ANC could not understand the pain Afrikaners felt when they heard "dubula ibhunu" being sung.

"White Afrikaners and white people in general will never understand the suffering those people [blacks] went through in the struggle, no matter how many times it is explained," she said.

"In the same way now the ANC do not understand what pain singing the song causes Afrikaans people." Engelbrecht recited the words to "dubula ibhunu" in Xhosa to the court and said she had studied the language for 10 years. She did not need a translation of the song to know it meant "shoot the boer", she said.

The people to which Malema sang the song were not there during the struggle, and so did not understand what the words meant to soldiers then, Engelbrecht said. He first sang it to a gathering at the University of Johannesburg last year.

AfriForum's lawyer Martin Brassey said he personally could not understand why the ANC would come to court and support Malema's behaviour.

He said Malema had admitted the song had commemorative and contemporary significance.
"Singing of the song indicates that you should hate the boer, he's worthy of being killed and you should hate him more," Brassey said.

He said he agreed with friend of the court professor Koos Malan that the court should protect minorities, and that this was a pillar of democracy.

Malema's lawyer Vincent Maleka said AfriForum and Tau-SA were trying to "muzzle" the youth league president.

"The entire body of evidence relates to the political ideas of Mr Malema. Mr Malema is being muzzled."

He was referring to Malema's statements on issues such as land reform and the nationalisation of mines. He said the claim the song intimidated people was not borne out by logic or evidence. 

Singing the words did not demonstrate a clear intention to be hurtful, incite violence or propagate hatred.

He said AfriForum's case was based on a misconception caused by the translation of the song, which was an "otherwise harmless art form".

"Since this has started there has been no act of violence or attempt of violence [against farmers]."

If an order was handed down stopping Malema from singing it, it would not stop others from doing so, Maleka said.
Judgment was reserved.

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