Will Juju settle?

2011-04-23 16:57

Afrikaner civil rights organisation AfriForum is prepared to settle its hate-speech case against ANC Youth League leader Julius ­Malema.

AfriForum’s CEO, Kallie Kriel, told City Press his lawyers would approach Judge Colin Lamont and ask for an independent mediator appointed by the court to convene a meeting between the parties.

If the discussion ends with a “satisfactory” outcome AfriForum will consider dropping the ­controversial case against Malema.

If this happens Lamont will not make a ruling in the case that has gripped the country for the past two weeks, but will merely confirm the settlement as an order of court.

City Press was also told that ­AfriForum had already approached Malema’s lawyers with the proposition for a settlement.

This development comes after a week during which Malema and ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe told the Johannesburg Equality Court it was preferable for the case to be settled outside court.

“We entered negotiations with the murderous apartheid regime while the armed struggle was still happening,” Malema said while ­being cross-examined by Afri­Forum’s counsel, Martin Brassey.

He added that the ANC was willing to talk to AfriForum in the “same spirit” and that matters may then “die a natural death”.

Mantashe said: “Our approach is very simple. The reason we are here is that we don’t understand each other. We have not made enough effort to understand each other.

“The process must be allowed to evolve – it depends on the efforts we all make. The court is not the best place for social-conscience ­issues to be discussed.”

Malema indicated for the first time on Thursday that he was willing to stop singing the struggle song, Dubul’ ibhunu, if it was proved that even one or two people had been physically hurt as a result of singing it.

But the Transvaal Agricultural Union’s (TAU) advocate, Roelof du Plessis, who got Malema to make the admission, poured cold water on any settlement talks, telling City Press he didn’t believe a ­settlement was possible.

“Our attitude to a settlement is that the song may only be sung at private functions at private houses. We’ve been differing from AfriForum on these things the whole time,” said Du Plessis, who was ­involved in a war of words with ­Kriel earlier in the week.

TAU entered the case as an ­intervening party after it disagreed with AfriForum’s approach to the ­matter.

On Wednesday tension between the parties reached boiling point, with Du Plessis accusing Kriel of behaving “like FW de Klerk”, referring to the ex-president’s negotiations with the ANC before 1994.

Kriel was heard responding: “It is people like you who I’ve been fighting against my whole life.”

Malema’s lawyer, Leslie Mkhabela, said they were proceeding with preparations for closing arguments, which are expected to take place in the third week of May.

“If any settlement discussions come up we will certainly consider it and take the appropriate instructions,” he said.

But a source close to Malema said the chances of a settlement being reached were unlikely.

“Why do they want to settle now? Because they saw things didn’t go their way in court?”

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