AfriForum’s Roets not in contempt for tweeting apartheid flag, court rules

 

 

The Johannesburg high court on Tuesday dismissed an application by the Nelson Mandela Foundation that the Afrikaaner lobby group, and its deputy chief executive Ernst Roets, be held in contempt after tweeting an image of the apartheid flag.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Sello Hatang said in urgent court papers filed last month that the “unmistakable intent” of the tweet was to “mock and provoke all those South Africans — black and white — who were celebrating the judgment, and felt vindicated and protected by the judgment.”

That tweet came just hours after it had been declared hate speech by the deputy judge president of the court.

Judge Colin Lamont said Roets could not be held in contempt because Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo’s order was “declaratory” — he declared that the gratuitous display of the flag was hate speech.

To be in breach of a court order, the order had to require a person to do, or not do, something.

Lamont quoted from Mojapelo’s judgment, where the deputy judge president said: “Contrary to the protestations of Afriforum, the relief sought by the applicants in this matter is not a banning order against the old flag.”

Lamont said that by declaring, instead of banning, Mojapelo’s order “sets the standard of morality expected to be adhered to by society”.

Roets may still be held to have breached the Equality Act, said Lamont, but the Equality Court was the right place to deal with it.

Lamont also said that Roets’s tweet was not authorised by AfriForum and he was not acting on his organisation’s behalf when he tweeted.

Roets tweet was posted a few hours after Mojapelo’s judgment. Posting a picture of the apartheid flag, Roets asked: “Did I just commit hate speech?”

The following day, Roets retweeted his earlier tweet, but this time accompanied by a comment saying that the reaction from people to his earlier tweet was “as expected”. He added that the judgment said the flag could be displayed for academic purposes and that he was “a scholar of Constitutional Law, currently doing my doctorate”.

“This is an academic question. It seems the NMF’s quest for apartheid style censorship & banning continues,” Roets tweeted.

Then, in an interview with Radio 702, Roets said that while it was correct to respect the rule of law, courts were not always right: “We must remember that Nelson Mandela was illegal according to the laws of the time, that the apartheid system was legal according to the laws at the time and according to the courts at the time.”

Franny Rabkin
Franny Rabkin
Franny is the legal reporter at the Mail & Guardian
Advertisting

R80-million: The cost of evacuating South Africans from Wuhan in...

The government is expected to evacuate citizens from Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak originated

Primedia CEO Essack leaves following internal battles

Omar Essack leaves the 702 and 94.7 owners after a protracted standoff with the board

‘We’re satisfied with SA’s land reform policy’— US Ambassador

Top US official is lobbying multinational firms to invest in South Africa

Hosni Mubarak is dead, but the Egypt he built is...

Despite the efforts of the Arab Spring, Egypt is still led by a military dictatorship made in Mubarak’s image

Press Releases

Tourism can push Africa onto a new path – minister

The continent is fast becoming a dynamic sought-after tourist destination

South Africa’s education system is broken and unequal, and must be fixed without further delay

The Amnesty International report found that the South African government continues to miss its own education upgrading targets

Business travel industry generates billions

Meetings Africa is ready to take advantage of this lucrative opportunity

Conferences connect people to ideas

The World Expo and Meetings Africa are all about stimulating innovation – and income

SAB Zenzele Kabili B-BBEE share scheme

New scheme to be launched following the biggest B-BBEE FMCG payout in South Africa’s history

Digging deep

Automation is unstoppable, but if we're strategic about its implementation, it presents major opportunities

TFSAs are the gymnasts of the retirement savings world

The idea is to get South Africans to save, but it's best to do your research first to find out if a TFSA is really suited to your needs

Achieving the litmus test of social relevance

The HSS Awards honours scholarly works based on their social relevance and contribution to the humanities and social sciences