Human rights commission to probe hate speech in Edward Zuma letter

Edward Zuma.Picture: Felix Dlangamandla
Edward Zuma.Picture: Felix Dlangamandla

The South African Human Rights Commission will take action on an open letter written by Edward Zuma that it believes violates freedom of expression.

In an open letter written in his personal capacity this week, President Jacob Zuma’s son slammed ANC members Derek Hanekom and Pravin Gordhan, who have called on the president to step down, and called them representatives of “white monopoly capital fronts and anti-majoritarian rule”.

“The South African Human Rights Commission has become aware of an open letter purported to have been authored by Edward Zuma,” said Gushwell Brooks, the commission’s communications coordinator.

“The commission finds the contents of this letter, in particular statements that promote hatred on the basis of race offensive and disturbing and a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression as articulated in section 16 of the Constitution.”

Brooks said the commission would be seeking “appropriate redress” as empowered by the Constitution as well as the SAHRC Act.

“The commission is concerned by such statements being made within the broader context of hate speech, particularly on the basis of race, by individuals with a public platform.”

Last year, Edward Zuma openly fingered Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as being among “the senior ANC leaders who were captured by the prominent Rupert family”, yet everyone was fixated on his father, he said.

Read: State capture? Probe Ramaphosa and the Ruperts, says Edward Zuma

Edward Zuma, who runs a powerful WhatsApp group that discusses policies and matters of state, has in the past been vocal about his support for his father and the ANC.

“Whoever wants the president to leave might as well go somewhere and start his or her own country. That person must in fact begin to build his or her own country because President Zuma is not going anywhere,” he told City Press last year.

As part of a strategy to defend the ANC, Edward is coordinating the group – which includes members of Parliament, ministers, businesspeople and intelligence operatives – on the messaging platform WhatsApp.

He said those in the group – named the Black Board Foundation – came together based on issues identified as civil society. One of them, he said, was the fact that “the ruling party is under attack from various corners of this world”.

“The group was solely formed to defend ANC policies and the party. If the ruling party is then led by the president so be it, then we are defending that leadership,” he said.

Some quotes from the letter:

• “It was at the ANC’s recent fifth National Policy Conference of the ANC that Derek Hanekom, a white, white monopoly capitalist offspring – who is no better than a vile dog trained to maul a black skin, showed us his true colours – and how the struggle of our people has been infiltrated by enemies – the racist-paternalistic minority.”

• “It was during one of the economic transformation commission sessions that this minority champion white racist Afrikaner anti-majoritarian sell-out vomited on our native black people – the ANC, its comrades, and on our quest to address the economic and the historical land dispossession of our people – by saying the call for ‘expropriation without compensation’ is nonsense.”

• “Hanekom the white Afrikaner askari showed us clearly what he thinks of issues of black landlessness.”

• “Gordhan is one of the most corrupt cadres of the ANC who thinks African natives are no better than just being sugar cane cutters who must be forever subservient to a master like him for sustenance.”

• “The sell-out Gordhan wants natives to be perennially marginalised and always eat the leftovers dished by Indians and the white minority and its capital network. Gordhan as Gandhi sees black African natives as a low caste; K***irs who are subhuman and deserve no status beyond that definition.”

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July 2020

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