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Hofmeyr fails in bid to gag puppet

Published Nov 27, 2014


Johannesburg - The Randburg Magistrate's Court on Thursday set aside an interim protection order obtained by Afrikaans singer Steve Hofmeyr against ventriloquist Conrad Koch and his puppet "Chester Missing". 

"Mr Hofmeyr has exposed himself to criticism, satire, ridicule and the court is not satisfied that he should be accorded the protection," magistrate Naren Sewnarain said.

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Sewmarain awarded costs against the singer.

Hofmeyr was instructed to pay for the costs of the application at rates stipulated at magisterial level.

Dan Roodt, who is not a lawyer, had brought an application for an interdict on behalf of Hofmeyr earlier this month.

Koch had challenged the interim court order against him.

After the court proceedings, Missing asked Roodt why Hofmeyr was not in court.

"Why didn't Steve Hofmeyr come sir... is he scared of his own racism"? Roodt stepped up and slapped Missing aside before shoving him aside.

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Missing screamed :"You're hurting me... help help!"

Missing told Roodt he was violent, and should consider joining the Ku Klux Klan.

Roodt said : "Hofmeyr was in Cape Town to perform at a series of concerts... and this man (pointing at Koch) is stopping those concerts."

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Missing replied: "His (Hofmeyr's) own racism is stopping those concerts."

"Do you hate all black people or just some of them?" Missing asked an irritated-looking Roodt.

"We don't hate black people. Even if we lost the case, people are flocking to the concerts...

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"You can defame us and insult us as you like. We are here to stay. Die boere is hier om te bly! We are not going to leave this country! We are never going to be driven out by a vindictive insults nor by vicious violence that people like him are directing at us and focusing this hatred on us through their campaigns."

Missing started screaming : "Down with racism!" in isiZulu.

Roodt walked away angrily, followed by Missing and his chanting.

Dario Milo, a member of the Koch legal team, said the ruling was a good victory.

"It is an important victory for free speech and for the public to engage in robust debate," he said.

Earlier, Roodt told the court that a tweet by Hofmeyr that black people were the architects of apartheid did not offend blacks. The tweet offended white liberals, he said.

He read an excerpt from a column he wrote, and published in Afrikaans in response to Hofmeyr's tweet.

He interpreted his column in English for the court.

Hofmeyr tweeted on October 23: "Sorry to offend but in my books blacks were the architects of apartheid. Go figure."

Roodt said Hofmeyr also contested that apartheid was a crime against humanity before 1994.

"Hofmeyr contends that everyone who participated in the pre-1994 South Africa, through homelands and so on, is jointly responsible for apartheid, regardless of colour."

Steven Budlender, for Koch, said Hofmeyr's application had no basis and lacked merit.

Hofmeyr was well-known for making controversial statements, and had publicly and vociferously supported right-wing politics, said Budlender.

Koch in response had launched a civil campaign with his puppet Missing, against Hofmeyr's racism, he said.

The campaign publicly denounced and ridiculed Hofmeyr's views and encouraged others, including companies, to distance themselves from Hofmeyr's views.

Hofmeyr recently had a sponsored bakkie withdrawn by Williams Hunt in Port Elizabeth after the tweet.

Sewnarian started proceedings by ruling that no live broadcast of the proceedings was allowed.

"No videos or computers, cellphones or any electronic device is allowed in court... any such communication can be done outside court," he said.

He said the court was guarding against a possibility of discouraging other persons from bringing similar applications to court due to broadcasts and live feeds such as Twitter.

Only pens and notepads were allowed.

Journalists had to step outside during the proceedings in order to use cellphones and laptops.



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