A spiritualist and a librarian walk into court?...

2013-12-22 14:01

A creative dispute between a Durban spiritualist and a publisher has ended up in the Equality Court in Durban.

But after discussions between her Legal Aid lawyer and the city’s legal department, the 64-year-old walked away, happy with an apology and a promise to help her again in her quest to have her dream fulfilled.

Yolanda Armien, who lives in Natal Settlers old age home in Durban’s Umbilo suburb, accused the city, in court, of discriminating against her because of her age and of stifling her freedom of expression.

Armien is no stranger to the Equality Court: she lives at Natal Settlers free of charge after winning an earlier court battle with its administrators.

The self-declared shaman, who says she’s “not your run of the mill gogo”, first approached Durban Mayor James Nxumalo’s office for help.

She then approached the city’s deputy head of libraries and heritage, Guy Redman, in her bid to get her thoughts on all things spiritual out there for the world to read.

Redman introduced Armien to Durban niche publishing house Dancing Pencils, which specialises in publishing first-time writers.

Armien, who wanted a single book, clashed with Dancing Pencils boss Felicity Keats (82), who wanted a series of smaller books.

Armien demanded her manuscript back and a new publisher.

Redman delivered the manuscript to Armien, who then went to the Equality Court, claiming discrimination.

She also claimed the city had breached its promise and violated her right to freedom of expression.

In his affidavit to the court, Redman said it was “unclear’’ why he had been named as one of the respondents in the proceedings.

“She informed me of her desire to have her material published. I informed her that we do not offer that service but I could assist her by introducing her to a publisher, Dancing Pencils, who had assisted a number of first-time writers,” he wrote.

Redman said he had learnt of a disagreement between Armien and the publisher over the format of the work, which the publisher felt “needed a lot of time for editing and arrangement sequentially”.

Redman wrote: “My intervention was to collect the complainant’s work from the publisher and return it to her. That was the end of my involvement in this matter until I received the documents from this court.”

Armien said this week she was happy with her “victory” and was determined to go ahead with publishing her book the way she wanted it.

“It is urgent that my manuscript gets published and that I have total control over it,” she told City Press.

“I’m happy with the apology, although I wasn’t looking for one. All I want is to have the book published before I pass away.”

eThekwini head of group marketing and communications Tozi Mthethwa said the municipality apologised for “any inconvenience the complainant may have suffered whilst we were trying to assist her”.

But he reiterated that “publishing manuscripts and/or novels is not our focus area as the municipality”.

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