Calling a journalist a “white bitch” was unprofessional, suspended ANC Youth League spokesperson Floyd Shivambu said on Tuesday in an apology attached to a settlement he reached in the hate speech case against him.
“I want to apologise unconditionally for referring to [journalist Carien] Du Plessis, as ‘stupid’ and ‘white bitch’ in these SMSs,” he said in the statement.
“Not only was it unprofessional of me to respond in such a way, I also accept that she experienced it as an affront to her dignity as a fellow human being and as a woman.”
Du Plessis brought hate speech charges against Shivambu after an SMS exchange between them in May 2010.
In the SMS he wrote: “You must learn to respect people. I don’t comment on ANCYL issues and please stop being stupid… I wouldn’t want to earn respect from white bitches… so dream on.”
After the settlement was announced at the Johannesburg Equality Court, Du Plessis expressed her satisfaction with the outcome.
“I am glad he has apologised and relieved that it’s come to an end. It is a vindication for the profession of journalism,” she said.
In the settlement statement, Shivambu said his behaviour in sending the SMSs was contrary to the values of the African National Congress, which had fought hard to establish the principles of non-sexism in society.
He also withdrew “defamatory allegations made explicitly or by implication about Du Plessis” in press statements last year.
The settlement did not have a monetary component, but Shivambu would have to pay the taxed party and party costs incurred by Du Plessis in the matter.
Within moments of the magistrate announcing that the settlement had been reached, Shivambu issued a statement.
“I signed the settlement because I did not deem it valuable to continue with court cases that have no bearing or influence in the struggle for economic freedom in our lifetime,” he said.
“My legal representatives advised that I sign the settlement agreement and I complied because the court proceedings are a waste of time on a non-issue.”
Shivambu previously said he had “no recollection” of using the words “white bitch” and claimed the words were not part of his vocabulary.
For the same reasons, he said he would not entertain any media enquiries on the matter.
A journalist at the court asked Shivambu if he would shake Du Plessis’s hand for a photo opportunity, but he declined.
Earlier this month, Shivambu was found guilty by the ANC’s National Disciplinary Committee of sowing division and bringing the party into disrepute.
He was suspended from the ANC for three years for swearing at a journalist and for issuing a statement calling for a change of government in Botswana.
On Tuesday, there were reports that he and suspended ANCYL president Julius Malema would receive feedback from the National Disciplinary Committee of Appeals later in the day on whether the sanctions against them would be upheld. — Sapa