The EFF welcomed the Equality Court's to dismiss with costs a hate speech application brought by Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) welcomed the Equality Court's Thursday judgment to dismiss with costs a hate speech application brought by Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan against EFF leader Julius Malema who referred to him as a “dog of white capital”.  

In November last year, Malema took aim at Gordhan outside the state capture commission of inquiry venue in Parktown.

He accused Gordhan of going to state-owned enterprises to remove black people and of being a "dog of white monopoly capital".

Gordhan wanted Malema to donate R150 000 to charity, apologise and pay for costs.

"We welcome the court’s dismissal as a victory of political rights to free speech which is the only tool opposition parties have to question the powerful. Without the right to publicly criticise those in power, like Gordhan, we are unable to exercise accountability over the executive and its decisions," the EFF said in a statement.

The party said the judgment was a powerful signal to all politicians that they must not use courts to curtail accountability and scrutiny over their actions.

"Many powerful politicians have run to court seeking to silence the opposition through defamation suits. They do this so that their actions do not get scrutinised, criticised and interrogation by opposition party leaders."

Malema insisted that Gordhan's case was spurious and said it should never have been entertained by the Equality Court.

He believes while his remarks might have offended Gordhan, they did not amount to hate speech.

Handing down judgment, Judge Roland Sutherland said that "notwithstanding that the remarks made during the course of the speech were indeed hateful, they were not brought within the prohibited grounds set out in the definition of the various grounds in section 1 of the (Equality) Act".

The prohibited grounds include race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.

The act also states that any other ground where discrimination which causes or perpetuates systemic disadvantage, undermines human dignity or adversely affects the equal enjoyment of a person's rights and freedoms in a serious manner that is comparable to discrimination on any listed ground.

African News Agency (ANA)