Hanekom: Let's talk about 'shoot the boer'
Johannesburg - There should be a national dialogue about the song "awudubhule ibhunu" or "shoot the boer", given that some people had been offended by it, Deputy Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom said on Friday.
"If it offends certain people, I strongly believe we should engage one another," Hanekom told the Johannesburg Equality Court during a heated cross examination by AfriForum's lawyer Martin Brassey.
He was testifying for the defence in ANC Youth League president Julius Malema's hate speech hearing.
Hanekom said singing of the song was not a reference to an ethnic group, but to a system of racial oppression. He told the court it would be helpful if the people who felt hurt by the song understood it.
"The spirit [in which it is sung] does not even constitute hate speech."
Hanekom said there was no intention to harm or incite violence when the song was sung.
"It's in a friendly atmosphere... .We need to talk to each other a bit more," he said.
In his experience in the ANC, which he joined in 1980, it was never the party's intention to "exclude anybody", Hanekom testified.
The ANC's main objective was to bring about a non-racial, non-sexist and united society, he said. During the struggle, liberation songs were "just that".
"White, black, Jewish, Muslim... people sang struggle songs... It was very important as a mobilisation tool."
Today, he said, the singing of liberation songs was a celebration of "who we are". They represented "every part of our history", "and the fact we've brought to an end an unjust system".
Hanekom added in cross examination that the ANC had the powers to "instruct any of us". He was replying to a question by Brassey, who asked if the ANC could stop Malema from singing the song.
"Mr Malema has been under restraint from singing the song," Brassey said.
Hanekom then again suggested the need for public dialogue.
"Let's sit down and discuss it... .We have a country that we all love... entering into dialogue can only be beneficial," Hanekom replied.
He added it would be highly inappropriate if it was the only song Malema sang.
Referring to the 1995 Rugby World Cup, held in South Africa and which South Africa won, Brassey asked Hanekom what he would have thought if former president Nelson Mandela had sung the song at the event.
Hanekom said the question was hypothetical, but he thought Mandela would not have sung it, as it would have been inappropriate. Malema would not have sung it at the event either, he said.
Have no fear
Earlier on Friday, the court heard that a witness, a farmer, "was too afraid to testify".
Lawyer for farmers' organisation Tau-SA, Roelof du Plessis told Judge Colin Lamont that his witness, who had been the victim of a farm attack, had decided not to come forward out of fear for his life.
"The witness expressed sincere discomfort and apprehension. He has also raised concerns over his family, and for that reason will not testify on Friday," Du Plessis told the court.
Lamont advised Du Plessis that his witness "need have no fear" as far as safety and security within the court was concerned. Du Plessis said the witness was worried about what would happen "outside this court".
Malema was dressed in a navy blue suit on Friday and was seen sipping an energy drink.
The trial was adjourned to Monday at 10:00.