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Malema in the courts again

ANC Youth League president Julius Malema today narrowly escaped a default judgment against him in the 'shoot the boer' case

The Equality Court in Johannesburg has now given him just three more days from today to catch up with deadlines he missed for the filing of papers.

“It [the trial in April] is immutable. This is not going to be postponed or crowded out, it is running,” said Judge Collin Lamont,  presiding over the proceedings which were moved from the magistrate’s court to the high court.

Lobby group Afriforum lodged a complaint in the Equality Court last year after Malema included the lyrics “shoot the boer/farmer”,  "they rape", “they are scared”, “they rob, these dogs”, according to Afriforum’s application for a judgment by default.

He sang versions of it several times — in Polokwane, at the University of Johannesburg, In Rustenburg, in Mafikeng and in Harare, Zimbabwe in March and April of 2010.

It caused outrage among many, and national debate, especially among farmers and Afrikaners — some of whom believe they are being  targeted in an “Afrikaner genocide” due to farm murder statistics.

The theory increased debate over the matter after the murder of Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging leader Eugene Terre’Blanche on his farm last April.

Malema later modified it to “kiss the boer”, but Afriforum is pressing on with the case, asking that he be interdicted from encouraging or promoting hostility towards any ethnic group, within  Section 10 of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act.

According to Afriforum’s founding affidavit, Afriforum was to have filed papers related to the complaint by November 15 and Malema by November 29.

The latter deadline was missed and a reminder was sent by Afriforum by e-mail on December 3. There was no reply to that e-mail.

On December 8 a notice of bar was issued and served on Malema, represented by his attorney, telling him to serve and file his plea  within five days. There was no response to this by the deadline of December 15, which allegedly placed him in default of his compliance.

The court heard from Malema’s counsel Mahlape Sello on Wednesday  that there had been confusion over the e-mail address for correspondence relating to the default judgment sent to Malema’s legal team, hence a plea was not filed.

A personal instead of business e-mail address had been used, the  court heard.

Instead of agreeing to the default judgment — which would have barred Malema from presenting argument and would have meant that only Afriforum’s side of the argument would count when considering judgment, Lamont gave Malema another three days to comply.

He said it was important that both parties’ views were “ventilated”.

Malema was not present in the almost empty court, nor were the groups of league members and supporters who usually arrive to observe matters relating to him.

Lamont, sitting during the court’s recess, interrupted Afriforum’s counsel Martin Brassey during argument, when Brassey began a sentence with: “If this man Malema is to...”. Brassey said:  "No, it’s not ’this man Malema’, it is the respondent".

The Equality Court usually sits in the magistrate’s court but was moved to the High Court in Johannesburg due to the national interest of the case. A high court ruling would also cover all the jurisdictions the song was sung in — which include the University of Johannesburg and Polokwane.

If Malema does not file papers by Monday, he will be in contempt  of court.

Once the court had adjourned, Afriforum spokesman Kallie Kriel said they were happy with the way Lamont had handled the matter.

“It’s a good thing that this court takes such a strong stance and we welcome it. It could have been a judgment that was not contested. It shows he [Malema] is not above the law.” 

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