ANCYL man slammed for sex remarks

2011-04-09 20:15

Gender activist Lisa Vetten has accused ANC Youth League spokesperson Floyd Shivambu of using sex to distract attention from a “very simple” case brought against him in the Equality Court.

Carien du Plessis, a senior ­political correspondent for Independent Newspapers, is accusing Shivambu of hate speech for allegedly calling her “stupid” and a “white bitch” in separate SMSes.

The messages came after Du Plessis tried to solicit comment from Shivambu about his disciplinary case before the Young Communist League after he called ­deputy transport minister ­Jeremy Cronin a racist.

Du Plessis is demanding an unconditional written apology and payment of R100?000 in damages.

This week Shivambu circulated an affidavit to various newspaper editors in which he claims Du ­Plessis once asked him about an “African male I know” who she had “sexual interest” in.

He mentions this as a “private level” discussion he had with Du Plessis during which she allegedly asked him if she could trust the “African male” because “she believed he was making moves on her”.

Shivambu stated: “Before I could give her a definite answer, I met her with the African male in his private apartment in Johannesburg in what appeared to be a private meeting. I do not know what could have happened about the meeting.”

He said further that he had no record or recollection of sending the offending messages to Du Plessis, and that the word “bitch” was not in his vocabulary.

“I do not believe the journalist is racist because she has entertained the idea of intimately interacting with an African person and I do not believe racist people can do that. I would never think that she is racist because she told me she is considering sleeping with the African male who was making moves on her,” Shivambu wrote in his affidavit.

In response to the letter, Du Plessis’s lawyer, Okyerebea Ampofo-Anti, wrote to Shivambu’s ­attorney stating the affidavit “does not constitute a proper response to our client’s complaint as required by (the Equality Act)”.

Du Plessis said she was going ahead with the case and did not want to comment on Shivambu’s statement at this stage.

According to Vetten, who is the director of the Tshwaranang ­Legal Advocacy Centre, the case is simple and Shivambu is trying to raise smokescreens.

“The issues are very simple – do these communications constitute hate speech and is he their author? His comments (about Du Plessis’s alleged sexual behaviour) are irrelevant to the matter at hand.

“What has her sexual activity got to do with this? He is trying to create distraction from the ­central issue,” Vetten said.

She said it was a “classic tactic” to attack a woman plaintiff’s personality by “using sex against her”. Sex was often used “quite deliberately because it’s an area in which women are vulnerable”, she said. A Youth League statement this week referred to Du Plessis’s ­“tendencies” without elaborating.

“What are these ‘tendencies’? What has this got to do with the case? If anything, this sort of ­response underscores the Youth League’s deeply conservative ­approach to gender relations,” said Vetten.

Responding to questions from City Press, Shivambu maintained he did not send the offensive messages to Du Plessis, adding he was not trying to divert attention.

“Carien went to court on the claims that I said she is racist and I don’t hold that view of her being racist and I give (sic) a practical example of why I think she is not racist,” he said.

He said Du Plessis “knows very well” that he is not sexist or chauvinist and that she is “just seeking attention. For what reason, I do not know”.

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