Trial of KZN men charged with hate speech against Indians stalled again

2017-02-27 13:46


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Durban - A high-profile Indian hate speech case before Durban’s Equality Court - which was supposed to begin on Monday - has been stalled again.

The matter was set down for trial to be heard before Magistrate John Sander.

But the two men accused of inciting racial hatred, Zweli Sangweni and Phumlani Mfeka - both members of the African-consciousness pressure group Mazibuye African Forum - have indicated that they are still not ready to go to trial and need more time to brief attorneys.

"They are just stalling," a source close to the case said. "The matter has now been set down for a pre-trial conference in May."


In their complaint lodged with the court, the Human Rights Commission and the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation want Sangweni and Mfeka to apologise and pay a fine of R50 000, to go to an orphanage.

This is for statements they made in newspaper articles and a newsletter to the effect that Indians, including Mahatma Gandhi, were racist and were responsible for exploiting Africans and for their poor economic conditions.

This is the second time the matter has been set down for trial.

Last year, after agreeing to a trial date, neither men came to court. Their attorney asked to withdraw, saying he had not been able to contact them and that they had not attended scheduled consultations.

Constitutional law expert Professor Karthy Govender, who is representing the HRC, then accused them of "treating the process with disdain" - a view shared by the magistrate.

'Likely to incite hatred'

In his affidavit, HRC provincial manager Tanuja Munnoo said that based on the complaints received about the statements, there was "considerable concern" that they were "likely to incite hatred".

The two men responded to letters sent to them by the HRC by saying that this was an "un-African" method of dispute resolution, and asked that the matter be referred from court to a "more appropriate platform".

Sangweni denied his utterances were hate speech, saying they should be seen in a present and historical context.

"We are just voicing what people are saying," he said.

The Access to Justice Association of SA has come out in support of them, saying they are civil rights advocates.

Chief executive Sheena St Clair Jonker said: "Their issues are not born out of racial hatred, but rather out of the close-up and daily firsthand experience of the ongoing dire suffering of African people in KZN, where, because of the demographics, the employment structures are largely Indian."

Read more on:    sahrc  |  durban  |  racism

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Partner Content
How data is changing investments

Technological disruption is rife in many spheres of business and given the quantity of data available, it’s no surprise that the way in which asset managers work is also changing fast.

Behind the sparkle

Alluring, beautiful and timeless - diamonds are some of the most sought after gems in the world and are a true testament of everlasting brilliance. Let us take you behind the sparkle to show you the history behind this coveted jewel.


Play with your pet when you're not at home

Many pets are alone at home during the week while their owners are at work. So what do these animals get up to while they’re home alone?



How to get rid of fleas
12 Cool cat facts
Chocolate can be fatal for dogs
Spider-man star's adorable relationship with his dog
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.