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Dianne Kohler Barnard absent as lawyers arrive in court for hate speech case

Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Dianne Kohler Barnard, who shared a social media post praising apartheid-era prime minister PW Botha, was not present as lawyers met in court on Tuesday to discuss her hate speech case.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe filed papers last month on the ruling party’s behalf, saying Kohler Barnard’s act amounted to hate speech.

Lawyers for both parties arrived at the Equality Court, in the Western Cape High Court in Cape Town, on Tuesday morning.

They met in chambers before Judge Vincent Saldanha for a directions hearing, said Kohler Barnard’s attorney Elzanne Jonker.

“Certain procedural aspects were discussed and the parties are to convene a pre-trial hearing next week some time and present a minute to the judge for further directions,” she said.

The purpose of a directions hearing was usually to discover each party’s position and see whether the issues could be settled. If not, it was usually set down for mediation or trial.

Kohler Barnard’s DA membership was terminated at the end of October last year after she shared journalist Paul Kirk’s Facebook post.

“Please come back PW Botha – you were far more honest than any of these [ANC] rogues, and you provided a far better service to the public,” it read.

‘Clear intention to be hurtful or harmful’ 
Mantashe said in his court papers that the post unfairly discriminated against Africans, coloureds and Indians.

“The post constituted hate speech because it could be construed to demonstrate a clear intention to be hurtful or harmful.”

The ANC wants Kohler Barnard to pay R500 000 in compensation to an organisation identified by the court.

It wants the director of public prosecutions to consider laying criminal charges against her, and for her to pay legal costs.

At a disciplinary hearing, she pleaded guilty to breaching the party’s social media policy and bringing it into disrepute. In December, Kohler Barnard’s expulsion from the DA was lifted following an appeal. 

The party decided to keep her in her position until the end of the fifth Parliament, on condition that she not be found guilty of any transgressions during that period.

She, however, had to attend a presentation on the safe use of social media, pay a R20 000 fine and resign from all elected positions in the party, except that of MP.

She was demoted from shadow police minister to deputy shadow minister of public works. – News24

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Jenna Etheridge
Jenna Etheridge
Journalist, writer and editor

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