‘Racists belong in jail.’ EFF goes after Martinengo for monkey comment

Sasha Martinengo.
Sasha Martinengo.

The Economic Freedom Fighters today welcomed a decision by radio station Hot 91.9 FM to dismiss its breakfast show host Sasha Martinengo, but says it wants more action taken against him.

Martinengo referred to the party’s leader, Julius Malema, as a monkey during his show on Tuesday. During the course of the show, he said: “And people still listen to this monkey.”

Party spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said: “The EFF welcomes the dismissal following his racist remarks. Unlike many who accept apologies of the racists, this station refused to stop there and took it a step further by firing a racist.”

He added that it was obvious the radio station had acted decisively out of fear for Malema’s political party, but said the axing was not sufficient.

“We will, through our branches, be opening a criminal case against him because racists belong in jail,” said Ndlozi.

In September 2016, real estate agent Penny Sparrow was fined R5000 by the Scottburgh Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to a charge of crimen injuria.

Penny Sparrow

The fine was the result of a plea bargain agreement. She was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, suspended for five years, for a racist Facebook post in January in which she, like Martinengo, used the word monkey.

“I accept that in comparing black people to monkeys in my Facebook post earlier this year I have impaired the dignity of African people. Please accept my heartfelt apology,” Sparrow said in her apology.

Earlier this year former estate agent Vicki Momberg was sentenced to three years in prison, of which one year was suspended.

Vicki Momberg. Picture: Deon Raath

Momberg had been convicted of four counts of crimen injuria, after she lashed out at a black police officer who had been assisting her after an alleged smash-and-grab incident in Northriding, Johannesburg. She used the k-word 48 times.

At the time, the Kathrada foundation said it believed that the Momberg sentencing would act as a deterrent to other racists.

Screenshot of Adam Catzavelos.

Yet, we recently had the case of Adam Catzavelos, whose K-word rant from a beach in Greece trended on Twitter for two days. He was fired from the family business and banned from his children’s school.

Kesavan (Kessie) Nair. Picture: Jabulani Langa, Daily Sun

And this week saw businessman Kessie Nair in court over a Facebook video in which he called President Cyril Ramaphosa the K-word. His family members have argued that he was mentally unstable.

But hate speech has also seen politicians being hauled over the coals.

EFF leader Julius Malema Picture: Felix Dlangamandla (Netwerk24)

Malema, himself was found guilty of hate speech in the Equality Court in 2011 for singing “Shoot the Boer”. The court ordered him to stop singing the song and to pay part of the legal costs of lobby group AfriForum, which took him to court.

Ndlozi today called on the courts to deal harshly with those who continued to undermine the humanity and dignity of black people.

In a press statement, the station’s managing director Lloyd Madurai, said the comments “violated the station’s code of conduct and its commitment to our national democratic values” and were viewed in “an extremely serious light”.

Hot 91.9 FM also apologised to Malema, saying it deeply regrets any “adverse inference” that the presenter’s conduct may have had.

“The station is fully committed to all members of our community equally irrespective of their political, ideological, religious or social viewpoints and stands for tolerance, equality and the constitutional rights of all,” said Madurai.

Martinengo later took to Twitter and said he stood by what he said.

However, he apologised to those who “were offended” by his comments. – Additional reporting by News24

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