BLF wants Ernst Roets tossed in jail for ‘apartheid flag’ tweet

Ernst Roets, AfriForum Head of Policy and Action, speaks to the media after Judge President Phineas Mojapelo delivered judgment in the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s so-called “apartheid flag” case in the Equality Court sitting in the High Court in Johannesburg. 21 August 2019. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Ernst Roets, AfriForum Head of Policy and Action, speaks to the media after Judge President Phineas Mojapelo delivered judgment in the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s so-called “apartheid flag” case in the Equality Court sitting in the High Court in Johannesburg. 21 August 2019. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

The BLF are themselves facing a hate speech case brought against leader Andile Mngxitama by AfriForum.

In a statement on Saturday, longtime political enemies of AfriForum, Black First Land First (BLF), called for the harshest possible punishment for AfriForum deputy leader Ernst Roets.

After the Equality Court ruled that the display of the apartheid-era national flag constitutes hate speech, harassment and unfair discrimination, Roets continued to display the flag publicly on Twitter just a few hours after Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo’s ruling.

Roets defended it by claiming he’d been asking an “academic question” about whether posting a picture of the flag was hate speech.

A complaint was then lodged against him by the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) and the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

“We will now be proceeding with an urgent application in the high court, to declare Mr Roets in contempt of court,” said NMF spokesperson Luzuko Koti.

The BLF wasted little time in twisting the knife too. There is a river of bad blood between the two groups, with AfriForum also accusing the BLF of hate speech. They have dragged them to court over public comments from their leader that they would kill five white people for every black person in the event a taxi war ever breaks out.

The BLF on Saturday said they welcomed and supported the court application by the Mandela Foundation against the “arrogant racist” Roets.

The BLF alleged Roets had “deliberately and purposely undermined the court’s decision”.

“AfriForum is an unapologetic defender of apartheid. Roets and AfriForum have one agenda, which is to preserve apartheid. The display of the apartheid flag impairs the dignity and dismisses the collective pain of blacks resulting from colonialism, of which apartheid is a function.”

They alleged that apartheid would only really end once white people returned land ownership to black people and added that “Roets and AfriForum derive their racism from owning our land illegally”.

They slammed AfriForum for having once disputed that apartheid had been a crime against humanity. They alleged the group’s work focused on undermining all efforts to redress the legacy of apartheid.

“Ernst Roets has declared himself an academic and an expert on hate speech. He is in fact an expert in protecting and advancing apartheid and racism. This racist belongs in jail, just like all the apartheid leaders who are currently enjoying state pensions.”

In his ruling this week, Mojapelo said the current flag promoted unity among different sections of the new nation, unlike the old one.

“When a new democratic dispensation was forged in 1994, what South Africa needed was a new identity which broke away from her racial past, in which unity had been identified and defined as unity between the Afrikaans and English-speaking [white] populations only. The current flag was accepted to unite the nation, Mojapelo said.

The court found that “any gratuitous display of the old flag, besides being racist and discriminatory, demonstrates a clear intention to be hurtful” and “promotes and propagates hatred against black people”.

The SAHRC welcomed the judge’s ruling.

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