Court ‘exceeded its jurisdiction’ on Qwelane matter

2011-08-23 13:00

The default judgment handed down to South Africa’s ambassador to Uganda Jon Qwelane in the Equality Court exceeded its jurisdiction, the Johannesburg Equality Court heard today.

Qwelane’s lawyer George Kairinos said the default judgment was given at a directions hearing which was not allowed.

“The magistrate was not allowed to convert a directions hearing to a default judgment... This is putting the cart before the horse,” he said.

An enquiry needed to be convened before a default judgment could be handed down.

Qwelane was applying to the motion court for the rescission of the default judgment granted so he can start afresh with the matter.

In April, he was found guilty of hate speech. However, he was not present at the judgment, due to his job abroad.

While still practising as a journalist in 2008, Qwelane wrote a column published by the Sunday Sun in which he expressed his opinion on gays.

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) deemed the piece, headlined “Call me names, but gay is NOT okay”, hate speech and approached the court for a ruling in terms of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act.

Qwelane was ordered to apologise through the Sunday Sun and pay R100 000 to the SAHRC, which would use the money to promote rights of homosexuals.

The SAHRC was opposing Qwelane’s rescission.

The rescission application was continuing in the motion court.

Qwelane was not present in court.

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