Durban - Former president Jacob Zuma’s controversial son, Edward Zuma, has been interdicted from making comments amounting to hate speech and forced to apologise to Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.
Durban Equality Court magistrate Irfaan Khalil on Tuesday said Zuma should apologise to the ministers within seven days, and that the apology should be published on the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) website and in the media.
Khalil interdicted Zuma from publishing, propagating, advocating or communicating hate speech.
In June last year Zuma had written an open letter attacking Hanekom and Gordhan for their stance against his father.
The Equality Court imposed a fine of R60 000 on him and a number of restrictions and instructions against him, in the case brought by the commission.
ANC provincial task team co-ordinator Sihle Zikalala welcomed the court’s decision.
Zuma’s statement was reckless in the eyes of the ANC and those of society, he said.
“We must not be reckless, and we must not border on hate speech,” said Zikalala.
Asked if the ANC would take further actions against Zuma, Zikalala said the party would study the SAHRC’s report, and “only then will we comment on that”.
However, Zuma had in August succumbed to ANC pressure to apologise to Hanekom and Gordhan.
This was followed by a party statement saying “the ANC expresses its sincere gratitude to Cde Edward for respecting and subjecting himself to the political discipline of the organisation”.
Zuma arrived in court accompanied by his three attorneys, Simphiwe Mncwango, Ayanda Mkhwanazi and Sizwe Khanyile. But he and Mncwango left before the proceedings started after they told magistrate Khalil he had other commitments to attend to.
Initially the SAHRC wanted Zuma to be fined R100000 and the money donated to the needy Umthombo Secondary School in Howick, Midlands.
However, after Zuma admitted to have acted wrongly, both parties settled on a R60000 fine, which would be split - with half to be donated to the SAHRC-chosen Ohlange High School in Inanda, north of Durban, and half to Umthombo.
In the letter Zuma had accused Gordhan of selling the country to business tycoon Johann Rupert.
He also accused the former finance minister of being “one of the most corrupt cadres of the ANC who thinks African natives are no better than just being sugar-cane cutters who must be for ever subservient to a master like him for sustenance”.
Zuma said in the letter Gordhan preferred “natives to be perennially marginalised and always eat the leftovers dished by Indians and the white minority and its capital network”.
He said Gordhan “as Gandhi, sees black African natives as a low caste; k****** who are subhuman and deserve no status beyond that definition”.
Zuma also wrote that Hanekom was a “white Afrikaner askari” and a “white monopoly capitalist offspring - who is no better than a vile dog trained to maul a black skin, showed us his true colours - and how the Struggle of our people has been infiltrated by enemies - the racist-paternalistic minority”.
Both Gordhan and Hanekom did not take action against Zuma, but SAHRC chairperson Bongani Majola did, on behalf of South African society, with the aim of “promoting the protection, development and attainment of human rights”.
Reading the settlement agreement, Khalil said Zuma’s comments amounted to hate speech. He said Zuma should issue an unconditional apology within seven days.
He also interdicted Zuma from publishing, propagating, advocating or communicating hate speech.
SAHRC KwaZulu-Natal manager Tanuja Munnoo said the ruling was a lesson that freedom of expression should not be used irresponsibly.
She said Zuma had undermined the constitutional vision to build a united democratic society.
“In the words and language contained in the letter, such as the word ‘askari’, we have no doubts that the word carries hatred on the basis of race and constitute incitement to harm,” she said.
She said once Zuma signed the unconditional apology he had to forward it to the SAHRC.
“Then we would undertake to publish it through our website and put it out as a media statement for the public domain,” she said.
Gordhan and Hanekom said they would only comment once the SAHRC publishes the apology.