Some users on social media have objected to how the media has presented the case of Investec chairperson Fani Titi against his former friend Peter-Paul Ngwenya.
They feel the fact that Ngwenya referred to Titi as a “QwaQwa k****r” in an SMS was not the reason Titi went to court. Rather, the case is about the alleged death threats Ngwenya made against Titi.
Writer and activist Sisonke Msimang criticised a headline saying ‘Chairman of Investec takes long-time friend to court for calling him a k*ff*r’, calling it “misleading”.
“A black man did not take another black man to court for calling him a k…r. He took him to court because he allegedly threatened to kill him. Don’t do this.”
Her tweet picked up a lot of support, with many agreeing with her.
However, Titi attested in The Randburg Magistrates’ Court that, as a person on the world stage, it was dehumanising to be associated with the k-word and he did in fact find it humiliating, horrible and defamatory.
Others on Twitter also weighed in that the k-word part of the story was relevant to the case:
.@Eusebius I think its worse when a black person calls another black person with the K-word, because they know the impact and the effect that word has, they know and have experienced its hurt
— Proud'TswanaWoman (@handful_K) April 24, 2018
The case is before Magistrate Pravina Raghoonandan, who put Vicki Momberg away for crimen injuria for using the k-word, and senior prosecutor Yusuf Baba, who prosecuted the case.
Released from Robben Island in 1991 after nearly five years, Ngwenya alleged that Titi owed him up to R54 million.
Titi claimed yesterday that the money, which is destined to go to shareholders in Ngwenya’s company, was being paid into Ngwenya’s private account.
Titi testified that the dispute arose when his company, acting on legal advice, wanted Ngwenya’s company’s bank details, which he alleged Ngwenya did not share. That’s when the SMS was sent, calling Titi a “QwaQwa k****r” and a “Bantustan boss” and threatening that he would “see his mother”, which Titi took as a threat, as his mother is deceased.
The SMS, also directed at Titi’s business partner, Aqueel Patel, calls Patel a “bloody swine”, which Titi believed was chosen because Patel is a Muslim. The SMS was sent in 2016.
The charge against Ngwenya was only registered on December 14, 2017. It was this huge time gap that Ndebele hammered on.
Titi also said he had to prioritise his safety, which became even more of an issue when Ngwenya allegedly said he would not leave Makana Radio Communication, where Titi was on November 23, 2017, until he was paid. Titi claimed he was told that Ngwenya allegedly threatened to “kill these dogs”.
“If you don’t appreciate the fact that I’ve been dehumanised, that someone of my standing in this community and internationally has had to deal with this, I deal with an average of 100 different banks across the world, I’m off to an International Monetary Fund meeting, where my counterparts have to deal with the fact I’ve been dehumanised this way, so be it,” Titi told Ndebele.
– Background reporting, Amanda Watson