Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has reacted to Thursday’s Equality Court ruling that dismissed his application against Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema.
Gordhan failed to have Malema’s comment that he is “a dog of white monopoly capital” declared hate speech.
Speaking through his lawyer Tebogo Malatji, Gordhan said he “remains committed to political debate that deepens our democratic discourse and builds our country towards the Constitution’s vision of equality, dignity and freedom for all South Africans.”
‘He will not be intimidated’
Malatji added, “[Gordhan] will not be intimidated and will continue, with the vast majority of South Africans, to challenge those who undermine these goals.”
He conceded that Gordhan lost the case on “technical questions of the interpretation of the Equality Act.”
However, Malatji noted that the ruling said Malema’s statements were “clearly intended to be hurtful” and “promote hatred” of Gordhan.
“These statements were described by the Court as ‘obnoxious,’ and that they contained an ‘example of an extravagant juvenile rant stretching hyperbole to the extreme in the course of a demonstrably demagogic speech,'” Malatji said.
He advised Gordhan to explore all legal options “to seek recourse against the persistent and infantile political campaign of the EFF that spreads lies about our client, and promotes the politics of hate, division, intolerance and intimidation.”
EFF leaders celebrate ruling
Earlier on Thursday, EFF leaders hailed Judge Roland Sutherland’s ruling. EFF Secretary-General Godrich Gardee said it upheld EFF’s right to freedom of expression.
The party’s Deputy President Floyd Shivambu wrote on Twitter, “The DOG OF WHITE MONOPOLY CAPITAL, Founder of the Rogue Unit, Grand Master of the CABAL, god of STRATCOM, the nepotist who’s destroying State Owned Companies Jamnandas Gordhan was defeated and should pay cost for his frivolous application.”
EFF 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.”
In its official statement, EFF said the ruling “is a powerful signal to [those in power] that they must not use our courts to curtail accountability and scrutiny over their actions.”