Cape Town - Police are investigating a criminal complaint against DA Cederberg Municipality Speaker, John Hayes, who has come under fire for sharing images likening EFF supporters to monkeys.
This is as the EFF lodged the complaint with police against Hayes on Thursday over the controversial sharing of the images, which depicts monkeys pulling the wheel caps off an unidentified car with the caption: “Be careful. The EFF strike started”.
But Hayes said it was not his intention to hurt anyone, and he had no plans to resign.
“I am not a racist. I just shared a funny little video, that’s all. I accept that I am guilty of naivety and got carried away with the looting threats from the EFF on Sunday. But I had no intentions of hurting people. I have taken the video down and apologised,” he said.
Police spokesperson, Captain FC van Wyk, confirmed a crimen injuria case was under investigation.
“This office can confirm that a crimen injuria case was registered for investigation earlier today (Thursday, March 23) at Cape Town Central Police. Investigations continue,” he said.
Hayes was elected Speaker of the Cederberg Municipality earlier this month, and said he won’t step down from his political duties.
“I am an activist all my life, running on the DA ticket was a way to get stuff improved for our community. I thought of stepping down from all political duties after this. But I would be letting down my community if I resign. Because I am a community worker. The DA needs to decide on that. If I resign, then I will be letting my people down,” he said.
The criminal complaint was first lodged with the municipality by community activist and Rural and Farmworkers Development Organisation executive director, Billy Claasen.
“As a councillor he should have known better. As I have said numerous times, this video is hilarious and a great joke. But as soon as you add the caption it then constitutes to hate speech and can be racism. Here you directly refer to human beings as baboons. We live in a very fragile society and cannot condone this,” he said.
Cederberg Mayor, Ruben Richards, said they have received the complaint against Hayes.
“We have received correspondence from the complainant. We will follow due process and allow the law to take its course,” he said.
Having worked closely with Hayes, Richards said claims that he was racist were “unfounded”.
“I have also been called a racist before, and I am not even white. It is easy in this country to call someone a racist,” he said.
A case of crimen injuria has now been opened against the Speaker of the Cederberg Municipality, John Hayes for his racist tweet where he associates EFF members with monkeys. At the police station were Cmsr @nazier_paulsen, Cmsr @Sam_Matiase, Ftr Wandile Kasibe & Billy Classen. pic.twitter.com/2LsqwNUS9e— EFF_Western Cape (@EFFWesternCape_) March 23, 2023
EFF provincial chairperson Unathi Ntame said Hayes should be held accountable.
“He has also broken his oath of office, code of ethics, municipal social media policy, thus brought his office into disrepute. Furthermore, he has reduced the office he occupies into being the subject of a racial controversy that has now angered and provoked many residents across the province and beyond. As a government official, he knew the consequences of his action, thus must be held accountable for his irresponsible and reckless behaviour,” he said.