'The intent by Mr Malema was to cause harm'

African National Congress Youth League (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, was 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.

Du Plessis said even after criticism and objections over the song “dubul’ ibhunu” (shoot the boer) 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 Judge Collin Lamont he was being asked to “stamp out hate speech”.

Earlier in the day, lawyer for civil rights group AfriForum Gerta Engelbrecht said the ANC could not understand the pain Afrikaners felt when they heard “dubul’ 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 does not understand what pain singing the song causes Afrikaans people.”

Engelbrecht recited the words to “dubul’ 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. Malema first sang it to a gathering at the University of Johannesburg last year.

AfriForum counsel Martin Brassey SC 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.

Judgment was reserved.—Sapa

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