Durban - Durban Equality Court Magistrate Irfaan Khalil has reluctantly agreed to postpone the hate speech case brought by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) against Edward Zuma.
The commission is seeking a R100 000 fine from President’ Jacob Zuma's son, but Edward contends that viewing his words as hate speech was the personal opinion of SAHRC chairperson, Bongani Majola, who filed the complaint with the court.
In an open letter distributed in July last year, Edward hit out at since axed ministers Derek Hanekom and Pravin Gordhan, calling both sell-outs and supporters of white monopoly capital.
In the same diatribe, Zuma called Gordhan “one of the most corrupt cadres of the ANC who thinks African natives are no better than just being sugar cane cutters who must be forever subservient to a master like him for sustenance”.
Zuma described Hanekom as a “white Afrikaner Askari” whom he said was “no better than a vile dog trained to maul a black skin”.
The SAHRC issued a statement soon thereafter, saying that Zuma’s utterances promoted hatred on the basis of race, that he had violated the constitutional right to freedom of expression and that it would be seeking appropriate redress.
Deliberating with legal representatives for both parties at court on Tuesday, Magistrate Khalil asked why the commission had not acted expeditiously in filing a replying affidavit to Zuma’s response.
It would not be in keeping with best practice to see the case dragged on unnecessarily “depending on the whims of the parties,” he said.
Tuesday had been set down for a directions hearing, but both parties agreed to a postponement.
Pavershree Padayachee, on behalf of the commission, said that chairperson Majola had been overseas, but had since returned. The commission was seeking the adjournment “to file a more comprehensive response,” she said.
“It has taken you three months or so to file a replying affidavit,” Khalil told Padayachee.
Acting for Edward, advocate Ayanda Mkhwanazi said he did not disagree with the postponement.
Also read: ANC tells Edward Zuma to apologise – or else
Khalil said that he didn’t think the matter was a complex one, but agreed to the postponement “reluctantly”, saying that the replying affidavit would help to contextualise the dispute.
Although both parties had agreed to pay their own costs, Khalil said he would not rule on that yet. “Should I order the SAHRC to pay costs because of the delay? It is best to reserve the issue of costs until the end of the matter,” he said.
Edward has always been an outspoken supporter of his father and is known to frequently circulate his opinion to journalists via WhatsApp. But since his dressing down by the ANC last year for his reckless statements, he has toned down his rhetoric.
Since Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was elected as the new president of the ruling African National Congress party in December, Zuma has not responded to requests for comment.
Khalil ordered the commission’s replying affidavit was to be filed and served on or before 19 February and that the case was set down for 22 May for the directions hearing.
African News Agency/ANA