Shivambu did not meet lawyers

By Drum Digital
24 April 2012

In the four months since the last postponement in the hate speech case against suspended ANC Youth League spokesman Floyd Shivambu he had been unable to meet his lawyers, the Johannesburg Equality Court heard on Tuesday.

Defence attorney Lucky Maunatlala asked for a postponement on these grounds. If it were denied, Shivambu's legal team would withdraw.

Magistrate Oriel Vele agreed with the complainant's advocate Richard Moultrie that this constituted "a threat".

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

She claims 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 is suing for R100,000 in damages.

Shivambu previously denied the allegation. In an affidavit he said he had "no recollection" of sending the message. He said the word "bitch" was not in his vocabulary.

On Tuesday, Maunatlala said his team had made many attempts to secure a meeting with Shivambu, but he did not "pitch up".

Vele said: "The client should show an interest in (his) own case."

Maunatlala explained that Shivambu had been busy with issues around the African National Congress' disciplinary processes and commitments as an ANCYL leader.

"He put time and energy into (the disciplinary process) because it affects him personally," he said.

Vele said the Equality Court matter also affected him personally.

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 before.

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

Moultrie said he was "astounded" that Shivambu's team should ask for a postponement simply because Shivambu was "too busy" to meet his 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 at 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 ANC 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.

Vele asked for an adjournment while he considered the postponement application.

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