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'Shoot the boer' is a media translation, court told

Genevieve Quintal

The translation of "dubul' ibhunu" as "shoot the boer" is a media translation, Julius Malema's lawyer told a court on Thursday.

The translation of “dubul’ ibhunu” as “shoot the boer” is a media translation, Julius Malema’s lawyer, Vincent Maleka, said during closing arguments in the hate speech case against the African National Congress Youth League president on Thursday.

“[AfriForum deputy CEO] Mr [Ernst] Roets became aware of the song when he went into the Times website and saw the translation,” Maleka said in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, sitting as the Equality Court.

“The problem is not with the word, but with the translation,” he said, adding that the word “ibhunu” did not refer to a specific person.

“In 1994 ibhunu had a political connotation ... the word needs to be given a different meaning after 1995,” he said.

Malema’s lawyer started his closing argument on Thursday afternoon, making reference to the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act.

Earlier in the day Judge Collin Lamont said the translation of the song had upset people, but this did not mean that the audience to which Malema was singing the song took the same translation.

Lamont said it was common cause that “shoot the boer” could be the translation, but he could not say it was the proper translation.

Different meaning
Sung in a particular language the words may have a meaning to one audience and translated could have a different meaning to another audience.

Lamont was responding to closing arguments given by AfriForum and TAU-SA.

AfriForum’s lawyer, Martin Brassey, said the ANC had failed to establish that the song sung during the struggle years against apartheid was not inflammatory.

TAU-SA’s lawyer Roelof Du Plessis agreed.

He said the ANC should have held a formal press conference when the translation of the song lyrics was first published, explaining what it meant and why it was sung.

Last month, the words “dubul’ ibhunu” and their symbolic, literal and historic meaning were scrutinised by witnesses from farmers’ organisation TAU-SA and civil rights group AfriForum.

The latter brought the case against Malema and the ANC.

The ANC has defended Malema’s singing of the lyrics four times in South Africa and once in Zimbabwe last year.—Sapa

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