Durban group forges ahead with contempt of court order against ANCYL

Thanduxolo Sabelo (Amanda Khoza, News24)
Thanduxolo Sabelo (Amanda Khoza, News24)

Durban – The Active Citizens Movement (ACM) is pressing ahead with its court application seeking to hold the ANC Youth League in KwaZulu-Natal in contempt of court and have its leadership fined – or even imprisoned – for disobeying a court order.

The order – an interdict – was granted by Durban High Court Judge Rashid Vahed on the eve of a memorial for ANC stalwart Ahmed Kathrada, organised by the ACM and at which former finance minister Pravin Gordhan was the guest speaker.

Its aim was to stop any disruptions and violence at the memorial – but it proved ineffective and now the ACM wants the court to punish the league and its members.

It is seeking an order that ANCYL provincial secretary Thanduxolo Sabelo personally pay a fine of R50 000, and the league R100 000 to a charitable organisation, as well as apologise publicly or be sent to jail.

In the initial interdict application, the ACM expressed fears for the safety of Gordhan and detailed the threats made by ANCYL leadership against him.

In response to the contempt application, the league launched a "striking out" application accusing the movement of referring to the youth league’s regional, provincial and national bodies as one; making "wide ranging and irrelevant allegations of political history" and relying on hearsay evidence.

'Intentional or deliberate'

Sabelo said: "The provincial body and its officials should not and cannot be held responsible for what its national body and its officials do or say."

He also accused the ACM’s Benedictor Madokwe of introducing irrelevant political history into the matter.

Sabelo said while the memorial had been disrupted, what had to be determined was whether or not the transgressors were members of the provincial youth league and if so, whether it was "intentional or deliberate".

"In delving into the political history, Madokwe is attempting to show the disruptions were deliberate and politically motivated… he stops short of alleging the conduct was premeditated.

"This has nothing to do with the issue at hand."

In an affidavit filed in response, Madokwe said the provincial youth league could not and had not distanced itself from the utterances of its national leadership and it was not a separate legal entity.

"These issues cannot be used to evade responsibility," he said.

'Deep divisions'

Referring to the complaint regarding the detail of the "political history" of the matter, Madokwe said courts did not operate in a vacuum, but were "alive to daily events".

"We set out the objective facts leading up to the widely accepted differing standpoints between two groups of persons… We do not seek to hold one party correct and the other incorrect.

"It sets out the reality of deep divisions… the court is not required to make any findings on the current political discourse in South Africa…whether President Zuma’s relationship with the Guptas is or is not appropriate, or whether cabinet reshuffles are valid or not.

"The relevance is it provides evidence from which inferences can be drawn that the youth league had a political motive to disrupt the memorial service."

He said Sabelo also wanted to "strike out" certain newspaper articles citing high-ranking youth league officials.

"It is open to the ANCYL to dispute or deny the contents of these…these statements are in the public domain…the journalists would have absolutely no reason to concoct this evidence, especially in light of the fact that there has been no retraction of the statements," Madokwe said.

The matter will be set down for argument soon.

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