Qwelane ‘not recalled’, says minister

2011-11-09 10:50

There are no plans to recall or act against SA High Commissioner to Uganda Jon Qwelane, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said today.

Nkoana-Mashabane was responding in writing to a parliamentary question by the DA’s Kenneth Mubu.

Mubu wanted to know whether government intended to recall or institute disciplinary action against Qwelane after he was found guilty of hate speech against homosexuals by the Equality Court in June.

Nkoane-Mashabane said the matter in question arose from an article which Qwelane wrote in his capacity as a columnist and long before his appointment as the high commissioner to Uganda.

“As a representative of the South African government in a foreign country, Mr Qwelane upholds the values and principles of the South African Constitution.

“South African envoys are made aware of the provisions of the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, when addressing sensitive issues like the one quoted above.”

On September 1, Qwelane won his bid for a rescission of the finding against him and, as matters stood at present, he was not guilty of any charges preferred against him by the SA Human Rights Commission, Nkoane-Mashabane said.

Qwelane applied for the rescission of a default judgment granted against him in the Equality Court so he could start afresh with the matter.

He had been found guilty of hate speech, but was not present at the default judgment because of his job abroad.
The commission opposed Qwelane’s application, saying the reason for his absenteeism was poor and unacceptable.

Qwelane’s counsel argued that the default judgment was not allowed and that an inquiry 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.
Qwelane was granted a rescission of judgment by the Johannesburg Magistrates Court on September 1.

At the time, his attorney Andrew Boerner said the “initial battle has been won and now we begin [the] long road towards victory in the war for freedom of expression”.

While still working 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”.

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