ANC Youth League members repeatedly interrupted proceedings at the memorial service for Struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada at Sastri College in Greyville, Durban. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/ANA Pictures
Durban – The ANC Youth League was not in a hurry on Friday to apologise by Saturday’s deadline for disruptions at Sunday’s memorial service for Struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada.

Rather than trying to meet the demand by the Active Citizens’ Movement (ACM) to do so by 4pm on Saturday or face being charged with contempt of court, the league said it would call for a meeting with them to “discuss challenges”.

ANCYL provincial secretary Thanduxolo Sabelo also said no apology would be issued until its own investigation into the heckling allegation was complete.

“Right now we are trying to determine if members of the ANC Youth League were involved in the heckling.

“It was not only people in yellow T-shirts,” he said. “There were even people not wearing yellow T-shirts. We are not apologising for those people.”

Sabelo said he even believed members of the ACM, which organised the event, were involved.

The ACM’s provincial executive member, Ben Madokwe, denied this, saying the movement’s people had all been well behaved.

“We’ve heard that the ANC Youth League said it did not instruct its members to heckle but that doesn’t matter, they must apologise.”

The apologies should go out in all the media and should be to the movement, the Kathrada family and the public, all of whom were embarrassed by the heckling, he said.

Before the memorial, the Durban High Court gave the Youth League permission to attend the Sunday event after the ACM had sought an interdict against allowing them in, fearing for the safety of former finance minister Pravin Gordhan who was a speaker.

Permission was granted after the Youth League had promised that its leaders would behave and not assault, intimidate, harass or attempt to remove any of the speakers.

On another issue, Sabelo said he had apologised to the national office of the ANCYL for using the words of the banned hate-speech song Shoot the Boer; Shoot the Farmer at their Durban march to counter the anti-Zuma protest last week.

He denied singing the song, but said they had only used the words in a slogan and that had been “in error”.

“We are so used to using the slogan that includes those words,” he said, adding that they were “not meant to create violence”.

This month there have been at least two attacks on farmers in KwaZulu-Natal, one fatal.

Sabelo said he had not heard of the one, at Table Mountain near Pietermaritzburg, which happened after the march.

“There is no way it could have been incited by me. Obviously we do not condone any form of attack. The song is not literal,” he said.

He added that the ANCYL would be investigating a case of a farmer near Newcastle allegedly chasing workers and their cattle off his farm.

Mienke Mari Steytler, spokesperson for the Institute of Race Relations, said hate speech of any kind was unacceptable.

“Songs of this nature should not be tolerated.”

Witnesses should report such incidents to the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), she said.

The SAHRC had not responded to a request for comment by the time of going to press.

Nor had police responded to say whether any arrests had been made in connection with the two farm attacks near Pietermaritzburg or whether any action would be taken against the ANCYL for using the words of the banned song.