Court mustn’t waste its time on Sanef matter – EFF lawyer

Court mustn’t waste its time on Sanef matter – EFF lawyer

Julius Malema is seen leaving the Pretoria High Court during a lunch break in the case against the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in its matter against the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef), 6 August 2019, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

‘There is no single EFF tweet that is a call to violence,’ advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi said, and there was ‘absolutely nothing hateful’ about EFF tweets.

The EFF has told the Equality Court, sitting in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, its position on any form of violence is quite clear.

“It is not only opposed to only physical violence, it is also opposed to online abuse,” advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, on behalf of the EFF and its leader Julius Malema, argued on Tuesday.

“In the very first speech that brought us to court [in November 2018], Mr Malema made his position clear on violence. That clarity on violence has been repeated many times by leaders of the EFF,” Ngcukaitobi said.

This comes after the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) and five senior journalists approached the Equality Court to interdict the EFF from intimidating, harassing and assaulting journalists.

The five journalists are News24 editor Adriaan Basson, Daily Maverick journalist Pauli van Wyk, Tiso Blackstar associate editor Ranjeni Munusamy, Eyewitness News senior journalist Barry Bateman and Vrye Weekblad co-editor Max du Preez.

“It is clear the EFF has publicly communicated its position on violence and its position on online abuse. Not only has it done that, it also told its supporters how to respond to what it perceives as a provocation – superior logic, clarify facts and people will fall on their swords,” Ngcukaitobi said.

He added both Malema and EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu have told their supporters on Twitter that the way they engaged with journalists “is with superior logic”.

“Mr Shivambu has said the way we engage with confused journalists is to clarify the facts to them and they will fall on their swords.”

Ngcukaitobi said the EFF was on Sanef’s side when it came to the harassment of journalists, adding the party was appalled by the use of “misogynistic” language.

He argued the case should be dismissed with no order to costs because there would be no winners, saying the court should not “waste its time” on the case.

“There is no single EFF tweet that is a call to violence.”

Ngcukaitobi said there was “absolutely nothing hateful” about tweets that were posted by the EFF.

He added when Malema called Basson a racist it did not amount to hate speech.

“The fact that Mr Basson is called a racist is neither here nor there. In any event, his complaint is that he was discriminated against on the grounds of race. His argument is that he was discriminated against on the grounds of occupation,” Ngcukaitobi argued.

In November 2018, Malema identified specific journalists whom he accused of protecting Gordhan. He also accused the media of ignoring allegations made by the EFF that Gordhan’s daughter was in business with the state, News24 previously reported.

At the time, Malema said: “These crooks, who are calling themselves journalists, are sitting with those questions they have never asked Pravin. The deputy president of the EFF came here yesterday and spoke. Instead of repeating those quotes, they asked Pravin: ‘Why is the EFF attacking you?’ I want the EFF leadership from today and the membership to know we are not answering any question[s] from Tiso Blackstar, the Daily Maverick, Scorpio, and e.tv which ask us about our wives, about our relatives, about anyone we know, until they ask Pravin these questions in a live interview.”

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