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Kimberley - While the Director General, Justice Bekebeke, has been cleared of charges of discrimination following remarks about “pigs and panties”, which he made during a speech on work performance to motivate managers in the Office of the Premier in 2017, he will still have to answer to charges relating to hate speech and harassment.

Delivering judgment in the Equality Court in Kimberley on Monday, the magistrate, Oswald Kreiling, pointed out that the content of the speech was never disputed.

During an address at a strategic management session at the Protea Hotel in October 2017, Bekebeke had indicated that “ek meng nie met semels en varke (I do not mix with chaff and pigs)”.

He also took on staff members who got dressed every morning with the intention of bullying their co-workers.

“There are those who wake up in the morning and say . . . vandag sal hulle my sien, vandag gee ek iemand hel. Ek sal my groot groen panties of groen onderbroek aantrek (I will show them, I will give my (colleagues) hell. I will put on my big, green panties or green underpants).” The green description was used to imply anger.

The transcript noted that there was laughter in the background after Bekebeke made the remarks.

Three complainants from the Office of the Premier testified that they were hurt, humiliated, discriminated against and dehumanised by the remarks.

They also felt that the remark made to senior manages about “big, green panties”, was inappropriate while any comparison to pigs was an insult to their dignity.

The main complainant, who has since retired from public service, wants a public apology and is also claiming R100 000 in damages for the “hurtful remarks that amounted to harassment”.

She denied that anyone laughed about his “figure of speech” and stated that everyone was “quiet and surprised” at the use of language.

According to Bekebeke’s legal representative, Lulama Lobi, his remarks were not directed at any individual and that he had no intention to hurt or harm anybody.

Lobi requested that the matter be postponed as his client was not present in court yesterday.

Krieling noted that the signature of one of the complainants, who testified against Bekebeke, could not be found on the attendance register.

He pointed out that “panties” were not restricted solely for women, while the remarks were general and were directed to all managers in attendance.

“While the use of the word ‘panties’ may be inappropriate, it does not impose a burden, obligation or disadvantage on the complainant. The reference made to ‘semels’ and ‘varke’ were not gender specific. There is no prima facie case of discrimination that can be proved against Bekebeke or the former premier, Sylvia Lucas.”

Krieling stated that the hate speech and harassment charges would, however, be tested in court.

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