Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)/Archives

Johannesburg - The long-standing battle between Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and the EFF may very well be far from over.

While Gordhan on Thursday suffered a bruising defeat at the Equality Court when it dismissed his hate speech case against EFF leader Julius Malema, Gordhan’s attorney said he would pursue further legal options.

Handing down judgment at the South Gauteng High Court, Judge Roland Sutherland described the matter as a political contestation and dismissed it with costs.

The judge said when politicians chose to use the courts to conduct their campaigns and draw on the resources of the courts, they needed to understand there would be consequences.

“All litigants must know they risk (an) adverse costs order if they fail. Despite the fact that the utterances were indeed hateful and aimed at engendering hatred against the applicant (Gordhan), the applicant has failed to bring his understandable grievances within the compass of the Equality Act. In these circumstances, the applicant ought nevertheless to bear the costs,” the judge said.

Gordhan’s lawyer Tebogo Malatji, in a statement sent out on behalf of his client, argued that “whether attacking our client, targeting judges, or intimidating journalists, the EFF’s dangerous abuse of prejudice subverts our constitutional democracy and promotes the politics of hatred, intolerance and division.”

He said the minister remained committed to political debate that deepened the country’s democratic discourse.

The case dates back to when Malema was hauled to the Equality Court following a speech he gave in November last year while addressing EFF supporters outside the venue of the commission of inquiry into state capture, in Parktown. He called Gordhan a “dog of white monopoly capital” and said he hated “Africans”.

Gordhan had wanted Malema to donate R150 000 to charity, apologise and pay his legal costs.

But the judge said, “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 (Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination 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 EFF said Gordhan “conducted himself as untouchable when he presided over cruel projects of espionage in the rogue unit. The EFF welcomes the court outcome and will continue to expose Gordhan to the end”.

According to the EFF, Gordhan sought to suppress the EFF and Malema’s right to free speech and political campaigning, and sought to suppress their right to “call him out as the lapdog of white monopoly capitalism”.

Political Bureau