Settlement reached in Shivambu hate speech case

By Drum Digital
24 April 2012

Suspended ANCYL spokesman Floyd Shivambu and journalist Carien du Plessis reached a settlement agreement on Tuesday in a case of hate speech before the Johannesburg Equality Court.

The parties signed the settlement, which included an admission and apology by Shivambu.

Du Plessis said: "I am glad he has apologised and relieved that it's come to an end. It is a vindication for the profession of journalism."

A journalist asked Shivambu if he would shake Du Plessis's hand for a photo opportunity, but he declined.

Du Plessis brought hate speech charges against Shivambu after an SMS exchange between them in May 2010.

In the SMS he wrote: "You must learn to respect people. I don't comment on YCL issues and please stop being stupid... I wouldn't want to earn respect from white bitches... so dream on."

Du Plessis was suing for R100,000 in damages, but the settlement had no monetary component.

Within moments of the magistrate announcing that the settlement had been reached, Shivambu issued a statement on the matter.

"I signed the settlement because I did not deem it valuable to continue with court cases that have no bearing or influence in the struggle for economic freedom in our lifetime," he said.

"My legal representatives advised that I sign the settlement agreement, and I complied because the court proceedings are a waste of time on a non-issue."

The court previously ruled that Shivambu pay Du Plessis' legal costs, amounting to R18,000, because it appeared he had tried to stall proceedings by asking for postponements when they were unwarranted.

This was one of three cost orders against Shivambu in this matter, and he had so far failed to pay.

Earlier, defence attorney Lucky Maunatlala had asked for a postponement.

Du Plessis's advocate, Richard Moultrie said he was "astounded" that Shivambu's team should ask for a postponement simply because Shivambu was too busy to meet his legal team.

"(He) regards himself as more important and worthy of indulgence than (Du Plessis) ... and thinks he is more important than this court.

"This matter will not benefit from any postponement."

Shivambu appeared in court wearing a black leather trench coat. During proceedings he played with his tablet computer, and occasionally whispered to his legal team.

Earlier this month, Shivambu was found guilty by the ANC's National Disciplinary Committee of sowing division and bringing the party into disrepute. He was suspended from the ANC for three years for swearing at a journalist and for issuing a statement calling for a change of government in Botswana.

On Tuesday there were reports that he and suspended ANCYL president Julius Malema would receive feedback from the National Disciplinary Committee of Appeals later in the day on whether the sanctions against them would be upheld.

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