Julius Malema's utterances hateful, but not hate speech: verdict in Pravin Gordhan case

The Equality Court on Thursday dismissed public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan's hate speech case against EFF leader Julius Malema.

Judge Roland Sutherland dismissed the matter with costs, including the costs of two counsel.

“Despite the fact that the utterances were indeed hateful and aimed at engendering hatred against the applicant, the applicant has failed to bring his understandable grievances within the compass of the Equality Act,” Sutherland ruled.

Gordhan lodged a complaint with the court after Malema accused him of being corrupt and a lackey of white monopoly capital, among other slurs.

The incident took place outside the state capture inquiry in November 2018. Gordhan charged that Malema had contravened section 10 of the Equality Act.

Sutherland found that Malema's verbal attack on Gordhan was personal and not directed at Indians, as the minister had argued in part of his application.

“The utterances address the applicant as an individual and not as a member of a class or group of persons as defined in the prohibited grounds,” Sutherland's judgment read.

The EFF's Godrich Gardee said the party welcomed the judgment. “In the absence of political speeches and political rights, and freedom of speech by the opposition, we may as well close shop,” he said.

Gardee said Malema’s speech was not intended to incite violence.

He wouldn't be drawn on questions about what Malema’s reaction would be to the judgment. “[The judgment] is not about our president [Malema], but about Mr Jamnadas [Gordhan]. It is actually about Mr Jamnadas and the country, and the African people, because he is there as the white monopoly capital security guard and we shall be dealing with that phenomenon soon,” Gardee said.

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