No superior status for freedom of expression – Judge Lamont

2011-09-12 09:42

Freedom of expression does not trump human dignity in South African law, Judge Colin Lamont said while handing down judgment in ANC Youth League president Julius Malema’s “shoot the boer” hate speech trial.

“Freedom of expression does not ensure superior status in our law,” Lamont said today.

He named a number of local laws and international treaties that ensure the protection of human dignity.

South Africa’s Constitutional Court had handed down many “ubuntu” judgments which sought to address the strains or broken relations in communities.

Lamont said minorities had no legislative power and often had to turn to court for their rights. They were a “fragile group”.

During the course of the hate speech trial, he had repeatedly said any of the parties could stop the case.

He traced the number of times Malema, not present today, sang variations of lyrics which translate to “shoot the boer”.

He said one of the defences was it was symbolic of the white regime and not literal.

AfriForum Youth, which is part of the rights lobby group AfriForum, opened a civil case against Malema in the Equality Court after he sang the words “dubhula ibhunu”, which translate to “shoot the boer”.

It believed the words were threatening to minorities and a threat to the safety of Afrikaners and farmers and that the phrase constituted hate speech.


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