Justice Bekebeke, Northern Cape Director-General, leaving the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday. Picture: Picure: Soraya Crowie
Kimberley - Judgment in the “green panties and pigs” discrimination case against the Director-General of the Northern Cape, Justice Bekebeke, will be delivered on July 22.

The matter is being heard in the Equality Court in Kimberley.

Bekebeke is facing charges of making use of discriminatory and humiliating words, as well as hate speech, following remarks he made when addressing managers during a strategic session at the Protea Hotel in October 2017.

In his speech he spoke of high-performance staff who were committed and who went beyond their scope of duty, in contrast to workers who only did the bare necessity and troublemakers, who “wake up in the morning, put on their green panties or green underpants” and whose only aim was to cause havoc and bully their fellow colleagues.

He had also spoken about not wanting to associate himself with “pigs and chaff”.

The complainant, who is a former employee at the Office of the Premier, is claiming damages amounting to R100 000 and has also taken former Premier Sylvia Lucas to task for not taking any remedial steps to address the alleged violation to her dignity.

During closing arguments on Wednesday, Lulama Lobi, the legal representative of Bekebeke, explained that his client was making use of a metaphor when he mentioned people who “put on green panties and green underpants”.

“It was used as a figure of speech and was not directed at any specific person. He was referring to very angry people when he described the green panties and underpants, as opposed to just panties and underpants.”

Lobi acknowledged that while the choice of words could be considered “inappropriate”, he argued that it was completely unrelated to discrimination or hate speech.

“My client has a right to freedom of speech as it relates to freedom of expression. He never meant to be hurtful nor did he have any intention to harm anyone. He did not single out any gender, as both men and women were present at the meeting. There is no basis for discrimination, no promotion of hatred, nor any trace of incitement to harm.

“He made use of a commonly used Afrikaans idiomatic saying.”

The legal representative for the complainant, Tsietsie Shuping, explained that the colour of the panties was irrelevant.

“The use of the word was offensive and gender discriminatory in nature. The statement made, shows the potential to harm, hurt or insult. To call someone a pig is an infringement on their dignity.”

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