EFF leader Julius Malema’s utterances were “problematic” in a democratic society committed to healing the divisions of the past and establishing a society based on democratic values and fundamental freedoms.
That’s according to South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) CEO Bongani Majola yesterday, who cleared Malema and EFF general secretary Godrich Gardee of hate speech complaints brought against them. “The impugned statements made by Mr Malema constituted robust political speech, which enjoys special protection as expression that lies at the heart of the right to freedom of expression,” the SAHRC found.
“It is found that although offensive and even disturbing, the statements – viewed in their full context – do not amount to hate speech.” In 2011, Malema was found guilty of hate speech when he sang the song, Kill the boer.
“The meaning of the words is such a gross infringement of the target group’s rights that it cannot be that Malema did not know he was acting wrongfully towards them,” Justice Colin Lamont said at the time. A statement signed off by EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi noted the complaints wanted to “suppress legitimate criticism that should help society confront its ills”.
“We reiterate that it does not help the country when people try to shut down debates, by abusing the resources and time of courts and Chapter 9 institutions,” Ndlozi said.