SAHRC receives complaints about Zuma, Mbete comments

Baleka Mbete referred to EFF leader Julius Malema as a 'cockroach' at the ANC North West congress. (Paul Botes, M&G)

Baleka Mbete referred to EFF leader Julius Malema as a 'cockroach' at the ANC North West congress. (Paul Botes, M&G)

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has received a complaint regarding President Jacob Zuma’s comments about Jan van Riebeeck, as well as National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete calling Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) leader Julius Malema a cockroach, it said on Wednesday.

The complaint against Zuma related to statements attributed to him on Friday last week at an ANC fundraiser, where he reportedly told some of the country’s wealthiest people that “all the trouble began” in 1652 when Van Riebeeck landed in the Cape.

SAHRC spokesperson Isaac Mangena said: “They [the Freedom Front Plus] claim that the statement generalised negatively about the descendants of Jan van Riebeeck and white people in particular, and that the statement demonised Afrikaners based on an incorrect historical view.”

The SAHRC was assessing the complaint to decide whether or not it had the mandate to pursue it, but it was not known how long this process would take.

FF Plus spokesperson Anton Alberts said the party felt compelled to lay the complaint because it thought the remarks attributed to Zuma constituted a form of hate speech.

“He spoke on a racial basis. He referred to whites and wherever whites engaged with black people, they engaged in aggressive acts and warfare and displacement of black people,” said Alberts.

“He [Zuma] also said that the ANC was a formation of indigenous people ... which implies other people can’t be regarded as indigenous.”

Mbete’s ‘cockroach’ comment
“I can confirm that the SAHRC has received a complaint regarding alleged utterances by Speaker Baleka Mbete, in which she is alleged to have referred to ...
Malema as ‘cockroach’,” said Mangena.

During Tuesday’s debate on President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address, EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said Mbete should withdraw the remark.

Ndlozi was referring to reports that Mbete, addressing an ANC North West congress at the weekend, spoke of “cockroaches like Malema”.

“If we don’t work we will continue to have cockroaches like Malema roaming all over the place,” the Mail & Guardian quoted her as saying. 

Mangena said the complaint, laid by a member of the public, was one of hate speech and incitement to violence.

“The commission is assessing the complaint with the view to investigate.” – Sapa, Staff Reporter

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