NPA to decide whether to criminal charge Kunene over Malema cockroach comments

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The court has ordered Kenny Kunene to retract the "cockroach" comments he made against EFF leader Julius Malema.
The court has ordered Kenny Kunene to retract the "cockroach" comments he made against EFF leader Julius Malema.
Gallo Images / Sowetan / Veli Nhlapo
  • Patriotic Alliance deputy president Kenny Kunene may face criminal charges for his "cockroach" slur against EFF leader Julius Malema.
  • The Equality Court, which found him guilty of hate speech, has instructed the NPA to decide whether the statement warrants criminal charges for crimen injuria.
  • Kunene has confirmed that he will be appealing the judgment.

While the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) is still deciding whether to criminally charge Patriotic Alliance (PA) deputy president Kenny Kunene after the Equality Court found him guilty of hate speech, Kunene has indicated that he will appeal the judgment.

On Tuesday, the Equality Court found Kunene guilty of hate speech after he referred to EFF leader Julius Malema as a "cockroach" and "a little frog" in November 2021.

Judge Motsamai Makume of the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg ordered that within 30 days of the judgment the court must prepare a dossier of papers filed in the court case and a copy of the judgment and submit it to the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider criminal charges.

"Whereafter the Director of Public Prosecutions... should determine whether the impugned statement warrants institution of criminal proceedings for crimen injuria against the first respondent (Kunene"," read the judgment.

However, in a media statement on Wednesday, Kunene said he would be appealing the judgment. In the ruling, Judge Makume said Kunene "chose to dehumanise Malema when there was no reason to do so".

"His (Kunene's) defence that he was provoked by Malema's earlier comments [when he called him and his party a party of 'amabhantinti' (prisoners)] makes no difference. Hate speech remains hate speech even in the presence of extreme provocation," read the judgment.

The court found that Kunene's statement – when he referred to Malema as "a cockroach", a "little frog" and a "criminal" – constituted hate speech.

In his media statement, Kunene said while he respected the court, he believed the judgment handed down "was wrong in law and would be overturned on appeal".

"My lawyers will be advising the High Court as soon as possible that we will indeed, respectfully, appeal. They will be pointing out that the judgment failed to not only consider the various arguments raised by my counsel in the matter, which in their opinion resulted in the incorrect outcome, but that the judgment itself is at odds with the established case law," read Kunene's statement.

READ | Stadium footage is admissible in Malema's firearm discharge trial, court rules

Makume ordered Kunene to issue an unconditional public apology to Malema and retract the statement. "The statement of apology and retraction shall be made within 30 days from the date of this order," read the judgment.

Meanwhile, the EFF welcomed the judgment and described it as "correct" and "logic". In a statement on Tuesday, the EFF said during the Rwandan genocide, Tutsis were referred to as cockroaches on public platforms.

The party said Kunene was "not only hateful" for using the same term to describe Malema, "but he was completely ignorant of the deep history that dehumanisation has in the pre-emptive stages of violence and genocide".

"The Johannesburg High Court, therefore, correctly found that there was no retaliatory justification for his comments and that Kunene sought to incite hate and harm towards the commander-in-chief of the EFF," read the EFF statement.

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