ANC bigwigs weigh in on hate-speech case

Several African National Congress bigwigs were in the Equality Court on Monday to help defend youth league leader Julius Malema from a charge of hate speech.

Supporters from as far as Limpopo picketed outside the South Gauteng High Court in support of Julius Malema during his battle with Afriforum for the right to sing the struggle song Dubul’ibhunu, translated as “Shoot the Boer”. A confident Malema riled up his supporters after his third day in court, chanting the controversial lyrics.
Party secretary general Gwede Mantashe, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane, poet and struggle veteran Mongane Wally Serote, ANC member of Parliament Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Deputy Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom sat through proceedings, which entered their second week.

Mantashe, Chabane and Malema were expected to take the stand this week.

Madikizela-Mandela has been in court supporting Malema since the start of the case. She would not testify.

Afrikaner interest group Afriforum took Malema to court, arguing his singing a struggle song containing the lyrics “awudubhule ibhunu” or “shoot the boer” constitutes hate speech.

Hanekom left the stand on Monday, to give way to Serote. He said South Africans were still paying the price for apartheid today.

“Alexandra as it stands is a direct legacy of apartheid.” He added many struggle songs were composed during training during the armed struggle, and had been based on events in the South Africa at the time.

“It is African culture to sing,” Serote said, adding that Bantu education had “de-educated” people.

“We came together, understood something and sang together ... you won’t find a composer ... you are guided by everybody.”

Serote agreed with the view expressed by Hanekom last week, saying that a “national dialogue” on the matter was needed.

Hanekom said the song “was not a call to violence, but a reference to a period or a system where people took up arms”.

Serote said he believed the song was not linked to any farm killings.

Under cross-examination by Afriforum lawyer Martin Brassey, Serote said Malema was an ANC cadre who would abide by ANC policies because he had no choice.

Serote told lawyer for farmers’ organisation Tau-SA, Roelof du Plessis, in his second cross-examination, that like the Voortrekker Monument, certain things—such as the song—needed to be preserved.

Du Plessis asked Serote why the ANC had not made any attempt to speak to people offended by the song.

“Why has it taken a high-profile court case to bring the ANC to say there must be dialogue?”

Serote said the ANC had done what it could.

After court adjourned on Monday, Madikizela-Mandela told supporters the court was “illiterate”.

“[ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe] is here to educate this illiterate court,” she said, after thanking supporters for braving the cold, outside the court in Johannesburg.

She said Malema was there not just as ANC Youth League leader, but as the ANC’s representative. Malema thanked the crowd and said he could not speak about what was said in court as it was “used inside”. He urged the crowd to remain disciplined “so we don’t give enemies anything to talk about”.

Unlike last week, on Monday his supporters were unruly outside the court.

Malema’s bodyguards, some carrying guns, pushed the crowd back as they tried to get a glimpse of him, and shoved aside photographers, cameramen and journalists.

Mantashe echoed Malema’s words, saying evidence still needed to be given under oath and witnesses were being cross-examined. He said the trial was not just about Malema, but about the ANC’s and the country’s heritage.

“All these songs played a role in the struggle,” Mantashe said.

The trial continues on Tuesday. - Sapa

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