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Gender network welcomes Malema apology

The Sonke Gender Network on Wednesday welcomed ANC Youth League president Julius Malema’s apology but expressed concern over the amount of time he took to comply with the Equality Court ruling.

“Mr Malema’s refusal to abide by the precise terms of the ruling represent disregard for the rule of law and create the impression that he believes he is above the law,” the network said in a statement.

The Star newspaper on Thursday reported that Malema apologised to “all women”, particularly President Jacob Zuma’s rape accuser, for his sexist remark, which was the subject of a hate speech case against him.

“I am sorry, sorry and very sorry about that. And commit not to repeat the similar mistake again. Issues of women are sensitive, and once a person says ‘I’m offended’, it doesn’t matter whether you are right or not, you must have the capacity to say sorry,” he said.

“I want to say sorry to the lady and to the Sonke Gender, and I commit to pay them that R50 000 and pay legal fees for that case.”

According to the Star, Malema instructed his attorney on Wednesday to withdraw his appeal against the Equality Court case in which he was found guilty of hate speech and harassment.

The case was brought by the network after Malema told students in 2009 that Zuma’s accuser had had a “nice time” because “those who had a nice time will wait until the sun comes out, request breakfast and ask for taxi money”.

Malema also told the daily newspaper he would obey the March 2010 court verdict and pay a R50 000 fine to a centre for abused women, and pay Sonke Gender’s legal fees.

The network also expressed concern over the ANC’s failure to discipline Malema or to get him to comply with the Equality Court ruling.

Sonke deputy director, Desmond Lesejane, said the network was glad that Malema finally decided to comply with the court ruling and urged him to show “a consistent respect” for the country’s constitution.

“Sonke believes the successful, if late, resolution of this case proves that South African leaders can be held accountable for their public statements, and sees this is a positive sign for our democracy. It also reinforces the critical role that civil society can play in protecting human rights.”

On Thursday, the Young Communist League welcomed Malema’s apology and applauded him for “finally realising his wrong judgement”.

“As an organisation, we had always insisted that, while President Zuma was innocent, our support for him must take into account the feelings of hundreds and hundreds of women who are victims of rape and abuse,” said YCL spokesperson Mafika Mndebele. — Sapa

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