André Slade, the former owner of the Sodwana Bay Guest House, said he was the victim of hate speech and racism after he was labelled a racist by the MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, Sihle Zikalala.
Slade caused outrage after making incendiary remarks about black people, stating that they were inferior to whites, responsible for the high crime rate and were meant to be servants. He also banned government officials from booking into his lodge.
In a brief phone interview with The Mercury, laced with wild statements about God and science, he said he would take his fight to the apex court as his constitutional rights, including freedom of association, had been violated.
“We filed our appeal days after the order of the review. The reviews are automatic in all equality courts.”
He said there was nothing wrong with his remarks, saying they were just facts of biology that black and white people were different. He added that it was his right not to allow people that did not fit his preference at his establishment.
“If someone has a doggy parlour, you cannot take a cat there, that is for dogs,” he said.
“We want this case brought to the Constitutional Court quickly so the matter can be finalised as soon as possible. We have suffered because of this, we have not had an income in more than two years,” he said.
Two judges at the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban, Judge Esther Steyn, with Judge Johan Ploos van Amstel, recently confirmed a judgment against Slade that was handed down by Umbombo Equality Court Magistrate Tamo Moodley in February this year.
He found that Slade’s speech amounted to discrimination on the grounds of race and he was fined R50 000.
Among Slade’s grounds for a review was his claim that the presiding officer had ignored his rights to freedom of expression.
“The judgment shows that the court was alive to the right of expression and the limitations thereof,” said the two judges in their confirmation.
They said: “If such freedom of expression incites violence or hatred, and is based on, among other things, race and religion, and which incites harm, then he is deprived of the protection.”
They confirmed that by not regarding blacks as human beings but as animals, he strips them bare of their dignity, describing that as a contravention of section 10 of the Equality Act as it relates to hate speech.
They also confirmed that his conduct constitutes unfair discrimination on the grounds of race, hate speech and impairment to the human dignity of blacks and government employees.
Zikalala, who had laid charges immediately after the remarks were first made, welcomed the findings.
“This is why this court judgment is critical to us as it sends out a strong message that KwaZulu-Natal, and South Africa in particular, has no place for people who want to take us back to a period where certain recreational facilities and amenities were the preserve of a certain race, to the detriment of others,” he said.