Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. File picture: Ntswe Mokoena/GCIS

Johannesburg - The Equality Court sitting in the Johannesburg High Court on Thursday ruled that comments made by Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, in which he called Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan "dog of white monopoly capital", 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.

The case relates to Malema's fiery address outside the venue of the commission of inquiry into state capture in November last year while Gordhan was giving evidence.

Malema took aim at Gordhan last November, accusing him of removing black officials from state-owned enterprises.

Gordhan had wanted Malema to donate R150 000 to charity, apologise and pay the legal costs incurred by him. 

Malema argued that Gordhan's case was spurious and should never have been entertained by the Equality Court. He insisted that while his remarks might have offended Gordhan, they did not amount to hate speech.

African News Agency (ANA) and