Edward Zuma hate speech case 'not complex' - magistrate

Edward Zuma (File, City Press)
Edward Zuma (File, City Press)

Durban - The Durban Equality Court hate speech case launched by the Human Rights Commission (HRC) against Edward Zuma was not a complex matter, according to Magistrate Irfaan Kallil.

The commission wants the court to order that Zuma, President Jacob Zuma's son, apologise and be fined R100 000 for a widely publicised open letter in which he attacked Derek Hanekom and Pravin Gordhan.

He accused them of being ANC sell-outs, labelling Hanekom an askari, "no better than a vile dog", and Gordhan a racist who viewed black people as nothing more than "k….s".

HRC chairperson Bongani Majola, in his complaint to the court, said hate speech seemed to be on the rise in South Africa, and that it was important, and in the public interest, for the court to pronounce on it.

Zuma, in his response, has said that the allegations of "hate speech" are just Majola’s personal opinion and has challenged him to prove there was "public outrage" over his comments.

ALSO READ: HRC wants Edward Zuma to fork out R100K for 'hate speech'

On Tuesday, the matter was set down for a "directions hearing" to determine how many witnesses would be called and how long the trial would take.

Zuma did not attend.

HRC attorney Pavershree Padayachee said they needed more time to file a further affidavit.

Magistrate Kallil said he was not prepared to have the matter "drag on according to the whims and fancies of the litigants", now that a decision had been made to bring the matter to court, rather than mediation.

He said the Equality Act provided for strict time frames so that any matter could be aired as soon as possible.

He noted that the complaint had been laid last September and that Zuma had responded in October.

He questioned why it had taken the commission so long to file its response.

Additionally, he said the issues - whether the commentary amounted to hate speech and whether there was public outrage - were clear.

Kallil said a further affidavit may help crystalise the issues, and agreed, "somewhat reluctantly", to postpone the matter.

The commission was given until next month to file its affidavit and the directions hearing has been set down for May, when a date for trial will be set.

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