ANCYL leader off the hook on hate speech charges

The Democratic Alliance on Tuesday said it would drop the hate speech charge against Free State ANC Youth League leader Thabo Meeko as he had shown remorse for his comments.

The DA laid a hate speech charge against Meeko in the Equality Court for unconstitutional comments made about University of the Free State Rector Jonathan Jansen in 2009, during the court appearance of the Reitz Four in Bloemfontein.

The Reitz Four refers to four former UFS students of the Reitz men’s hostel who made a racist video involving black workers.

It was reported at the time that Meeko in referring to Jansen said, “[Jansen] was equally a criminal like this racist young students at that university. We agree with the president of the ANC shoot and kill a criminal and that is what we must do.”

Meeko also said Jansen must be removed.

On Tuesday, Meeko said it was regrettable that the ANC Youth League’s statement was misinterpreted to mean that they intended Jansen should be shot and killed.

“That was never the intention.”

Meeko said the comment was made in the spirit of the attitude that existed at the time.

“We wish to reiterate that it was very unfortunate that it was interpreted in the manner that it was.”

DA parliamentarian Wilmot James welcomed Meeko’s remorse.

He said it was of utmost importance for the country’s citizens not to make reckless and irresponsible accusations as Meeko had.  James said it was an act of “egregious incitement” to wish to cause someone harm or to cause Jansen’s death.

“It was both wrong and unconstitutional.”

James said the UFS was not involved in the negotiations on the agreement which was reached between the DA and Meeko.

Agreement reached
He said during the negotiations it was agreed that in future the language that would be used would abide by the Constitution, the country’s democracy and normal ethical standards.

He said another reason for the DA’s decision was to move forward.

“The University of the Free State has to make progress as a university ... and at the heart of that effort is Professor Jansen’s admirable effort to take this institution from where it is now to something that looks different in future.”

Jansen said he was delighted to hear about the agreement.

“I’m really hoping that we can put this to bed now and get on in building a really great country.”

Jansen said Meeko had already apologised for his comments in 2009 during a meeting between the two of them after a visit by ANC
Youth Leader Julius Malema to the university.

He said since then Meeko had offered his skills and knowledge in helping the UFS to present a “sense of belonging” to all South Africans, black and white.—Sapa

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