SAHRC: We’re open to resolving Bridges case

2015-01-20 15:57
Brigit Rubinstein, legal advisor to the SAHRC, and Tammy Carter of the SAHRC talk to reporters outside the Western Cape High Court. (Paul Herman, News24)

Brigit Rubinstein, legal advisor to the SAHRC, and Tammy Carter of the SAHRC talk to reporters outside the Western Cape High Court. (Paul Herman, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - The South African Human Rights Commission has said it is open to resolving a hate speech case against Afrikaans songstress Sunette Bridges before the matter is heard in the Western Cape Equality Court on 20 April.

Judge Siraj Desai ruled on Tuesday that the Western Cape had jurisdiction to hear the case against the 43-year-old  despite her application to move the case closer to her home in Pretoria, Gauteng.

Initial deliberations for the case, which centres around controversial posts made both by Bridges and other users on her Facebook page, will be heard on 2 March, with the case commencing in earnest on 20 April.

The SAHRC, who filed the case against the singer, however, say they are open to resolving the case with Bridges before the matter heads to court in April, were she to take responsibility for the posts.

“The Human Rights Commission is seeking to bring about understanding,” Tammy Carter, acting provincial manager for the SAHRC in the province, told reporters outside the Western Cape High Court.

“What the court was talking about, nation-building and cohesiveness, this is ultimately the job of the Human Rights Commission, to bring about that process, and that is what we’re seeking to do.

“Whether we do it through processes of mediation and conciliation, or via the courts, all of those are proper process in terms of enabling the legislation of the HRC.

 “The HRC must take a leading role in these matters. We are open to any approaches from her, but will also invite her to speak to us about resolving the issue.”

Brigit Rubinstein, partner at CDH law firm in Cape Town and advisor to the SAHRC, also indicated that the invitation was open to Bridges to resolve the issue.

“We did actually publicly invite her to do so [address the issue], in court this morning [Tuesday],” Rubinstein added.

“The SAHRC preference is to resolve it on the basis of conciliation, of her taking responsibility for those posts that she has made, and deleting those that she regards as racist.”

'Case to answer to'

Advocate Anton Katz, counsel for the SAHRC, argued in court on Tuesday that the issue was a matter of constitutional rights, and that Bridges had a case to answer to.

"If these examples are evidence of hate speech, Sunette Bridges is playing sport with the Constitution,” he said.

“Are these examples evidence of hate speech or not? That's what we want the court to tell us."

Advocate Paul Kruger, attorney for Bridges, however, maintained that his client is not a racist, and can't be held liable for the words of other people.

"My client is being held accountable for comments made by others. She herself never used the k-word, nor quoted Adolf Hitler," he said in court, after the SAHRC cited two examples of other commentators' posts on Bridges' Facebook page.

Speaking to News24 outside the Western Cape High Court, Kruger said his client condemns acts of barbarism from all kinds of people in society.

"I don't think she can be held liable for things other people say on her Facebook page, at least not indiscriminately, indefinitely, and unconditionally," Kruger said.

"These things have to be explored by the court at the next hearing in an expert way, and I'm glad that the judge made that ruling."

The matter resumes in the Western Cape Equality Court on 2 March.
Read more on:    sahrc  |  sunette bridges  |  cape town  |  social media  |  hate speech

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.


5 top leg exercises for men

Here’s our selection of the five best leg exercises that you can do in the comfort of your own home.


You won't want to miss...

10 best dressed men of 2017
How to open a beer bottle without an opener
WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…
WATCH: Conor McGregor: Notorious the trailer
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.