Court rules in favour of Qwelane

2011-09-01 09:48

An application for a rescission of judgment by South Africa’s ambassador to Uganda, Jon Qwelane, was granted by the Johannesburg Magistrates Court today, the SA Human Rights Commission said.
The commission was ordered to pay the costs of the ambassador’s legal counsel.

Last week, Qwelane applied for a rescission of a default judgment granted against him in a hate speech case around comments he made in a “gay is not okay” column in the Sunday Sun, so he could start afresh with the matter.

In April, he was found guilty of hate speech, but was not present at the default judgment due to his job abroad.

The commission opposed Qwelane’s application saying his reasoning for absenteeism was poor and unacceptable.

Qwelane’s lawyer George Kairinos argued that the default judgment was not allowed and that an enquiry needed to be convened before a such a judgment could be handed down.

The commission contended that a section of the Equality Act empowered the court to make an appropriate order.

While still practising as a journalist in 2008, Qwelane wrote a column published by the Sunday Sun in which he expressed his opinion about homosexuals.

The column was headlined “Call me names, but gay is not okay”. The commission said it was hate speech and approached the court.

Qwelane was ordered to apologise through the Sunday Sun and to pay R100 000 to the commission. The money was to be used to promote gay rights.

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