The South African Jewish Board of Deputies has taken Black First Land First leader Andile Mngxitama to the Equality Court following a Holocaust tweet. File picture: Masi Losi/ANA
Durban - The South African Jewish Board of Deputies has taken Black First Land First leader Andile Mngxitama to the Equality Court for hate speech following a Holocaust tweet.

The board said in a statement on Wednesday that as the representative body of the South African Jewish community, part of its mandate was to protect the civil liberties of South African Jews, and to counter anti-semitism.

Last month Mngxitama caused a storm when he tweeted: “For those claiming the legacy of the holocaust is ONLY negative, think about the lampshades and Jewish soap.”

Later that day he followed up with another tweet which read: “the aroma of the burning flesh from the furnace of the holocaust may wet (sic) the appetite of the SA cannibals”.

Read: Anti-Jewish #andilemngxitama rages on

In an affidavit, the board's national director, Wendy Kahn, said the board was seeking orders from the Equality Court to find Mngxitama in violation of the Equality Act as he had uttered hate speech and committed harassment, and to find him guilty of unfair discrimination.

Speaking to The Mercury on Wednesday, Mngxitama said he was not surprised by the move, accusing the board of displaying white supremacist tendencies.

“They claim to be speakers of the English language, yet they seem not to know what irony is. I merely paraphrased (Western Cape Premier) Helen Zille. My point has been made eloquently by this response to try and silence me,” said Mngxitama.

He said the move by the board smacked of hypocrisy as it had never condemned Zille, who caused a stir when she tweeted: “For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water etc.” Zille later apologised for the tweet.

“Why are they only acting now? Why did they not go to the Equality Court when Helen Zille tweeted about colonialism?” asked Mngxitama.

He said he was not afraid.

The board is also seeking an order that Mngxitama be compelled to make an unconditional apology on Twitter and to remove all hate speech from his Twitter accounts.

Also read: Mngxitama should retract his holocaust tweet

The board also wants Mngxitama to participate in an education programme conducted by the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre, failing which he be ordered to pay R150000 to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.

Mngxitama said, however, that he felt that the part about participating in an education programme was meant to ridicule and belittle him and was yet another sign of arrogance by the board.

The board also wants the matter referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

In her affidavit, Kahn said that as a result of Mngxitama’s posts, his Twitter account, which has 75000 followers, had become a platform for further “anti-semitic hate speech”.

She added that the board had received numerous complaints from members of the Jewish community regarding Mngxitama’s comments .

Kahn said Mngxitama’s comments were in reference to the Holocaust, and were “hateful taunting which leads to the demonisation of Jewish people”, and were hurtful, harmful and may incite harm.

The Mercury