Durban - Trade union Solidarity said on Monday that political party Black First Land First (BLF) had missed a "golden opportunity" to apologise for racist remarks it made about the death of four pupils during the collapse of a concrete walkway at Hoërskool Driehoek earlier this year.
Solidarity filed a complaint with the Equality Court in February after BLF spokesperson, Lindsay Maasdorp, "celebrated" the death of the students, the union said via an emailed statement.
Anton van der Bijl, who heads Solidarity's labour law services, said in the statement that the union had received opposing papers from BLF president, Andile Mngxitama.
In an interview with the Citizen following his controversial tweet, Maasdorp said he would mourn the deaths of the students if they were black.
He told the Citizen: “If our God has finally intervened and our ancestors have petitioned and seen that these white land thieves have now died then I definitely celebrate it. I celebrate the death of our enemies, their children, their cats and their dogs. That is our position.”
Van der Bijl said BLF argued in its affidavit that "it would be reasonable for black persons not to have empathy with white people’s pain".
"Mngxitama also states in the affidavit that Maasdorp’s remark should be seen in the light of the pain black persons experience on a daily basis as a result of the privilege every white person received because of colonialism," said Van der Bijl.
Mngxitama argued that black people could not be racist and that the application would not succeed.
“The fact that he said that, confirms just how extremely racist his comments are and that his statements must be condemned with the full force of the law,” Van der Bijl said.
He said the affidavit gave the BLF "a golden opportunity to apologise to the parents of the victims of the Hoërskool Driehoek tragedy for the statements made by the BLF".
However, the party had chosen to use the opportunity to find excuses for being racist and for being permitted to be racist, said Van der Bijl.
“Although we support freedom of speech, the BLF has gone too far, and there is little doubt in my mind that they do not reflect the viewpoint of the vast majority of the South African public."
African News Agency (ANA)