Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leaders have reacted to the Equality Court’s ruling on Thursday in favour of Julius Malema.
The Court ruled that Malema’s comment that Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan is “a dog of white monopoly capital” is not hate speech.
EFF Deputy President Floyd Shivambu hailed the verdict in a Twitter post, saying they (EFF) are “focused on the crocodiles, not lizards.”
‘Right to freedom of expression’
“The Gauteng High Court has dismissed an application of Jamnandas Gordhan, who had frivolously asked the Court to declare political expression by CiC @Julius_S_Malema as hate speech. The court ordered that he must pay the costs too. We’re focused on the crocodiles, not lizards,” he wrote.
Speaking outside court, EFF Secretary-General Godrich Gardee said the ruling upheld EFF’s freedom of expression.
Writing on Twitter, party spokesperson Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi added that “Jamnandas is not above the law.”
He wrote, “Let us repeat once more; Pravin Jamnandas Gordhan is A DOG OF WHITE MONOPOLY CAPITAL.”
‘Not within compass of Equality Act’
Gordhan hauled Malema to the Equality Court after the latter’s comments, which he made outside the state capture commission of inquiry in November 2018.
He sought a declaration that Malema’s comments constituted hate speech. However, Judge Roland Sutherland dismissed his application with costs on Thursday.
Judge Sutherland said, “Despite the fact that the utterances were indeed hateful and aimed at engendering hatred against [Gordhan], [he] has failed to bring his understandable grievances within the compass of the Equality Act.”
Gordhan has not yet publicly reacted to the ruling. His lawyer, Tebogo Malatji, said they will comment after reading the full judgement first.
Although Judge Sutherland ruled in favour of Malema, he was scathing of his comments, labelling his speech in 2018 as “an extravagant juvenile rant.”
He said Malema’s speech stretched “hyperbole to the extreme” and was “demonstrably demagogic.” He added, “The dominant impression is that it is puerile self-aggrandisement, not a threat to [Gordhan] or anyone else.”