Mpofu can defend whoever he likes - EFF on Gareth Cliff case

2016-01-19 14:36
Economic Freedom Fighters' Dali Mpofu. (Charles Pullen, Die Son)

Economic Freedom Fighters' Dali Mpofu. (Charles Pullen, Die Son) (Charles Pullen/Die Son)

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Johannesburg - The EFF has denied that it supported racism after it emerged that its national chairperson, Dali Mpofu, was representing Gareth Cliff.

Cliff is suing M-Net for R25m after he was dumped from the company's Idols talent show when he stepped into the Penny Sparrow furore on social media.

Sparrow, a former KwaZulu-Natal estate agent was lambasted on social media for calling people in a picture of black beach goers "monkeys" in a Facebook post about beach litter.

Cliff came under fire after he retweeted a poll that asked if racist social media posts should be treated as criminal acts.

When he tweeted, "People really don’t understand free speech at all", he found himself in hot water.

He is denying racism and is throwing the book at M-Net which broadcasts the popular show, claiming R5m for defamation of character and another R20m for the cancelling of his contract.

He secured the services of Mpofu, better known for challenging pre-election irregularities, and representing families at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the mass shooting of striking miners at Marikana.

Economic Freedom Fighters deputy president Floyd Shivambu said it was Mpofu's professional right and obligation to represent anybody, irrespective of race, prejudice and background.

‘A racist who holds white supremacist views’

But he wanted to make it clear that he regarded Cliff as "a racist who holds white supremacist views, consciously and sub-consciously".

Shivambu still held a grudge against Cliff for his remarks on Twitter after the death of Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang in 2009.

Cliff had tweeted: "Manto is dead. Good. A selfish and wicked bungler of the lowest order. Rotten attitude and rancid livers - all three of them."

Shivambu said Mpofu's decision to represent Cliff "does not mean that the EFF defends racism".

"We remain resolute in the fight against racism and we shall never retreat, nor surrender!"

Channel 24 obtained a copy of the court papers in which Cliff explained how he felt about the controversy.

"As a person who has long been committed to non-racialism, nation-building and our constitutional democracy, I found the views expressed by Sparrow to be objectionable, disgusting and idiotic. I was deeply offended thereby.

"As an ardent believer of free speech, I was however also of the view that Sparrow had a right to express her objectionable views."

Read more on:    eff  |  dali mpofu  |  gareth cliff  |  johannesburg

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