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Africa

ANC youth leader found guilty of hate speech

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-09-12

A South African court found the ANC party's youth leader Julius Malema guilty of hate speech on Monday for singing a song whose lyrics mean "shoot the white farmer". The judge banned any future singing of the anti-apartheid anthem.

AFP - A South African court found Julius Malema, the ruling ANC's youth leader, guilty of hate speech Monday for singing an anti-apartheid anthem whose lyrics mean "shoot the white farmer".

"The singing of the song by Malema constituted hate speech," Judge Collin Lamont said in a ruling that banned any future singing of the lyrics.

"No justification exists allowing the words to be sung," he said, adding that the song runs against racial reconciliation in post-apartheid South Africa.

"The enemy has become the friend, the brother. Members of society are enjoined to embrace all citizens as their brothers," the judge said. "This new approach to each other must be fostered."

The ruling echoed previous findings by other courts and the Human Rights Commission, which have declared the song hate speech but done little to stop its use.

After the verdict, some Malema supporters began singing it outside the court, in open defiance of the court order. No action was taken against them.

The hate speech case is unconnected to disciplinary hearings by the African National Congress over other comments by the influential Malema, who faces expulsion from the ruling party over charges he has brought it into disrepute.

"The judgement is also like a public scolding for his behaviour, as he has been seen as this unruly child of the ANC and the party needs to rein him in," said Joleen Steyn-Kotze, political analyst at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth.

"What remains to be seen though is whether his supporters will abide by the ruling and not sing the song."

During Malema's testimony in May, a parade of top ANC officials came to court to stand by him, but on Monday, neither Malema nor any senior party officials were seen at the court for the ruling.

ANC Youth League officials said they would consult their lawyers on whether to appeal.

"The decisions that have been delivered today have banned majority of the ANC songs, the heritage of the ANC and the struggle of the people of the Republic of South Africa," said the youth league's secretary general, Sindiso Magaqa.

"It's a hard-hitting judgement that has wider implications on the constitution and the future of this country."

The civil case was brought by Afriforum, which sees itself as a rights group for minority whites, arguing that the song's Zulu chorus, "dubula ibhunu" -- "shoot the boer", or farmer -- is used to single out whites for violence.

"We are elated about this. It shows that we were right all along that Julius Malema's behaviour is polarising our community," chief executive Kallie Kriel told AFP about the ruling.

"I don't think our country can afford a figure like this continuing to polarise communities in the way he does."

The word "ibhunu" -- which is itself derived from "boer" in Afrikaans, the language descended from South Africa's Dutch colonisers -- was a central issue of the trial.

Afriforum argued the term "boer" is a derogatory word referring to farmers and whites more generally, but the ANC insisted that "ibhunu" means simply "oppressor" in the context of the struggle against minority rule.

"The ANC has never understood 'dubula ibhunu' as meaning shooting individuals. It was talking about the context of the enemy under apartheid," Floyd Shivambu, spokesman for the ANC Youth League, told journalists ahead of the verdict.

Malema's legal woes have done little to subdue him. On Saturday he accused the government of failing its people, saying: "This is war, and we should fight moving forward. There will be casualties, but I know that we are going to win."

Malema, 30, has won a following among poor blacks by speaking to their struggles to find jobs and a decent living in a country where unemployment stands at 25 percent.

His support helped President Jacob Zuma's drive to convince the ANC to oust his predecessor Thabo Mbeki from office.

Now their relations have soured, with Malema demanding that Zuma support his call to nationalise mines and resettle more white-owned farmland with poor blacks.

Malema's supporters have begun warning that Zuma could follow Mbeki out of power, as the ANC is preparing for a crucial meeting next year that will choose a presidential candidate who is all but certain to become South Africa's next leader.

Date created : 2011-09-12

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