Magistrate drops appeal over baboon

2012-09-11 13:19

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Bloemfontein - An appeal against an Equality Court ruling that found a Port Elizabeth magistrate guilty of hate speech for calling a worker a baboon was withdrawn on Tuesday.

"Maybe your client was ill-advised [to file an appeal]," Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) Judge Mahomed Navsa said at the start of the sitting.

Magistrate Johan Herselman’s legal counsel asked for a short adjournment from the SCA bench of five judges before withdrawing the appeal.

"Well-advised," remarked Navsa, before adjourning the short hearing of 10 minutes.

Evidence presented to court earlier indicated that Herselman used the derogatory word after worker Khayalethu Geleba scratched a court office door while shifting tables.

Herselman was also unsuccessful in his appeal to the Eastern Cape High Court (Grahamstown) against the Equality Court ruling last year.

The High Court held that the fact that a white person had called an African person a baboon meant the words were clearly "racially charged".

Bloemfontein Chief Magistrate Mziwonke Hinxa, who presided over Herselman's Equality Court hearing, had found it was unthinkable that he could not know the racial import of words like "baboon".

The High Court agreed, and quoted from several court cases in which the term "baboon" was deemed to be derogatory and to have racial undertones.

Navsa said Herselman accepted there was a problem in using such a word and had even apologised.

Read more on:    racism

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