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Ernst Roets' display of flag insult

AfriForum's head of policy and action Ernst Roets.
AfriForum's head of policy and action Ernst Roets.
Image: Martin Rhodes

AfriForum deputy CEO Ernst Roets' display of the old flag after the Equality Court had declared this to be hate speech showed he was in contempt of court, says the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

The foundation yesterday asked the high court in Johannesburg to declare Roets in contempt of court for displaying the old "apartheid-era" flag.

The foundation said it was up to the court to impose a sanction on Roets if it found him guilty.

It brought the application last month after Roets displayed the old flag on his Twitter account with the question: "Did I just commit hate speech?"

The display happened on the same day that the Equality Court declared that displaying the old flag, even in private spaces, constituted hate speech.

However, the court said the flag could be used for artistic, academic and journalistic expression in the public interest.

Counsel for the foundation Tembeka Ngcukaitobi said although AfriForum and Roets had disavowed the use of the old flag, their motives were revealed a few hours after the judgment by Gauteng deputy judge president Phineas Mojapelo when Roets displayed the flag. Ngcukaitobi said the display by Roets was a perpetration of racism that had been stopped by the court.

"He has decided that he is not going to comply with the declaration of the court," Ngcukaitobi said.

He said what compounded Roets' insult of the court was an interview he gave Radio 702 after his post, in which he said: "I am just saying the fact that a court says something doesn't by definition mean that is the right thing."

Ngcukaitobi said what Roets did was to call into question the character, dignity and standing of the judiciary as a whole.

In his response, Roets dismissed suggestions that he disrespected the judgment, insisting that the court said that the flag could be used for academic purposes. He said he was asking an academic question with his tweet.

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