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Cape Town - Citing flawed proceedings at the Equality Court, a Rastafarian group is taking the DA’s Mark Wiley to the Western Cape High Court this week.
Around six weeks ago, the group Rasta Beat lodged a complaint against Wiley, the province’s standing committee chairman for Community Safety, over his criticism of a top Cape Town policeman for publicly displaying a dagga emblem on his shirt.
Mitchells Plain cluster commander General Jeremy Veary was photographed wearing the shirt, with the word “Rastafarian” and a picture of a dagga leaf, at a public rally in June. After the publication of these photos, Wiley called for Veary to be disciplined by provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Arno Lamoer.
In a subsequent press statement, Wiley said Veary’s lack of remorse for the gesture represented an “utter disregard for the devastating effect that drugs have on communities such as Mitchells Plain”.
Invoking the Bill of Rights’ protection of religious beliefs, Rasta Beat’s Dieter Walbrugh argues that Wiley’s criticism of Veary was discriminatory, offensive to the Rastafarian religion and unconstitutional.
“We request that Mr Wiley respects (the Rastafarian religion) and Rastas, just as he would respect Islam and Muslims.
“He will not call General Veary to order if he was wearing a Christian T-shirt,” Walbrugh wrote to the court, further demanding that Wiley apologise to all Rastafarians. Rasta Beat argues it is a holy duty to protect the “image” of the religion and of “the herb that was created by the most high God”.
Walbrugh took the matter to the Equality Court after not receiving a response to a complaint lodged at the Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Rights Commission in July.
Court papers were lodged on July 17. Since then, Walbrugh says he has not heard back from the court. The Equality Court has five steps which need to be completed before a matter goes to a hearing. One of these steps requires a respondent, Wiley in this case, to be asked to state his case in an affidavit.
Walbrugh asked a court clerk last week at which step the process was.
“The clerk could not answer. He said that he would revert back to us on Friday (last week), but nothing has been communicated to us since. The proceedings are flawed and we will therefore take this matter to a higher level, and lodge it with the high court,” Walbrugh said.
Wiley told the Cape Argus that the complaint from the Rastafarians had been nonsensical, so the DA’s lawyers had asked for more clarity.
Since then they had not heard anything from the Equality Court.