High court gags Malema

ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema has been barred from singing “dubul’ ibhunu” [shoot the boer] according to an interdict granted by the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday.

“The first respondent is also barred from uttering any song of a similar nature which incites violence,” said Judge Eberhard Bertelsmann.

Bertelsmann said the order would remain in effect until the matter is heard in the Equality Court. 

He said the court was aware that Malema, the ANC and its youth wing had not been given ample time to respond, and emphasised this was a provisional finding.

He said democracy in South Africa was fragile and that those who participated in politics must consider that some things could offend other groups.

Malema refused to meet an ultimatum by civil rights group AfriForum to apologise for singing Ayesaba Amagwala [The Cowards are Scared] by last Friday. The youth league leader first sang it at a University of Johannesburg gathering and several times thereafter.

His advocate Vas Soni said: “We can’t stop a person from embracing his history and culture.”

AfriForum’s advocate Louis Visser said the word “boer”, in the context of the song, was derogatory and referred to farmers, whites and Afrikaners in particular. 

Bertelsmann said the fact that some people were threatened by the song could not be contested. Mediation was needed in the Equality Court to alleviate the division in the national discourse, he said. 

Victory
AfriForum and farmers’ union Tau-SA, which was the second applicant, welcomed the court’s decision, saying it was not only a victory for them, but also for the whole country and Malema.

“This ruling protects him from danger of being prosecuted or steps being taken against him,” said AfriForum chairperson Ernst Roets outside court.

“We are extremely happy.”

Last Friday, the High Court in Johannesburg ruled the use of the words “dubula ibhunu” were unconstitutional and unlawful. Delmas businessman Willem Harmse had brought the matter to court to prevent his colleague Mahomed Vawda from using the words on banners and singing them during a planned march against crime.

‘Dangerous disregard’
Meanwhile, the Independent Democrats said on March 31 that the ANC was showing a “dangerous disregard” for the courts by criticising a high court ruling on Ayesaba Amagwala.

ID secretary general Haniff Hoosen said he deeply regretted the ANC’s decision to continue with its appeal against a ruling of the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Friday that the use of the words “dubul’ ibhunu” was unconstitutional and unlawful.

The ANC’s decision came two days after Hoosen wrote an open letter to his ANC counterpart, Gwede Mantashe, imploring him “to rise above the current tit-for-tat racial squabbles in our country, which are achieving nothing more than taking our country backwards”.

“Calling the court ruling ‘incompetent’ and ‘unimplementable’ shows a dangerous disregard for the courts,” Hoosen said.

By failing to use this opportunity to show mature leadership and level-headedness, the ANC had missed the point completely.

“Even if the ANC’s legal interpretation is correct and they pursue their appeal and win, our nation will still be the biggest loser.

“Our nation does not need leaders that get involved in these petty squabbles; it needs leaders that rise above them and reach out to all sectors of our society. - Sapa

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