Equality Court clears DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard in discrimination case

DA parliamentarian Dianne Kohler Barnard (Michael Hammond, Gallo Images)
DA parliamentarian Dianne Kohler Barnard (Michael Hammond, Gallo Images)

The Equality Court has cleared Democratic Alliance (DA) member of Parliament Dianne Kohler Barnard, after a former party staffer accused her of racism, xenophobia and sexism.

The party's former parliamentary operations director Louw Nel had been so riled by comments she allegedly made during a crime workshop in February 2018, that he took the matter to the court in his personal capacity.

READ | 'Xenophobic, racist and sexist': Case against DA MP Kohler Barnard goes to Equality Court

But Kohler Barnard's lawyer, Lezanne Hough, told News24 that the Equality Court, sitting in the Bellville Magistrate's Court, dismissed the application on Monday.

She said Magistrate Jerome Koeries found that there was no unfair discrimination or any form of discrimination by her client.

The court also ordered Nel to pay for Kohler Barnard's attorney and advocate for the five-day trial.

Kohler Barnard had paid for her defence with her own money.

READ | Not all hurtful speech is hate speech – SAHRC after findings on Malema

Nel's founding affidavit alleged that Kohler Barnard's comments were discriminatory and bigoted.

He paraphrased her as saying:

  • "Farm murders have decreased since the removal of then-president Robert Mugabe, as Zimbabweans have returned home."
  • "Women have themselves to blame and are 'stupid' for being scammed as they enter into relationships with Nigerian men who sleep with them and solicit money under false pretences."
  • "Black children are killing 'whiteys' with stones thrown at vehicles from bridges, 'never mind the fact that coloured or Indian people are also being killed'." He also alleged that Kohler Barnard questioned why these "kids" were not in school.

In his affidavit, he submitted: "It is my contention that the utterances listed above amount to unfair discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, gender and race, and betrayed a bigoted attitude toward Zimbabweans, women and people of colour."

He also felt that her statements were not based on fact.

News24 previously reported that Kohler Barnard submitted in papers that her utterances did not make her guilty of discrimination in terms of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (Pepuda) and the Constitution.

She said comments she made at the workshop were based on her doing her job and keeping abreast with crime trends through constant interaction with residents from different suburbs, crime statistics and reading widely. They were not her personal opinion.

Nel had failed to show that people were discriminated against or that she had incited hatred or advocated war, she submitted in the papers.

She added that it was not against the law to call somebody "stupid" or "naïve".

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