Qwelane to apply for rescission of judgment

2011-06-06 12:19

South Africa’s ambassador to Uganda, Jon Qwelane, will apply for rescission of a judgment in which he was found guilty of hate speech, his lawyers said today.

“The application will state that Qwelane was not in wilful default of the Equality Court, as he was in Kampala on public service on the date of the hearing,” Andrew Boerner, of Jurgens Bekker Attorneys, said in a statement.

Although the article was controversial, it was not an incitement to violence, he said.

Qwelane, a former Sunday Sun columnist, was found guilty of hate speech by the Johannesburg Equality Court last Tuesday.

The court found that an article and cartoon in his column propagated hatred and harm. As a result of his work, homosexuals had experienced emotional pain and suffering.

The article was published in the newspaper on July 20, 2008, under the headline: “Call me names, but gay is NOT okay.”

In the article Qwelane refused to withdraw or apologise for his views. He also refused to write a letter to the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) explaining his thoughts.

The court ruled that, as Qwelane was not present at the hearing and it had only one version of the story, the SAHRC’s argument would be accepted.
Activists called the article “irresponsible” and “inflammatory”.

Press ombudsman Joe Thloloe received more than 1 000 complaints, and the SAHRC more than 300.

In his ruling on the article, Thloloe said it “did not advocate hatred, but merely stated his views on homosexuality and was not calling for harming of gays and lesbians”.

Boerner said Qwelane was entitled to freedom of expression, a right for all South Africans “protected and enshrined in the Constitution”.

Papers for the application to have the judgement annulled would be delivered to court within the next two weeks.

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