Rights group to sue Zuma’s son for hate speech

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma. The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has said it will press charges against President Jacob Zuma’s eldest son for insulting two former Cabinet ministers. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has said it will press charges against President Jacob Zuma’s eldest son for insulting two former Cabinet ministers.

Terming Edward Zuma’s remarks as “disturbing and offensive”, SAHRC said it has taken a decision to take him to court for hate speech.

In an open letter last week, the 40-year-old Zuma described former respected Finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his former tourism counterpart Derek Hanekom as sellouts who defend “white monopoly capital”.

Further, he said Mr Gordhan was “a stooge of white monopoly capital” and Mr Hanekom a “white Afrikaner askari”.

White monopoly capital is a derogatory phrase used to describe white people's dominance in various industries in South Africa.

Investigations

Following the backlash over the vitriolic letter, SAHRC said it would be investigating Mr Zuma, while the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party asked him to retract the statements against its leaders and apologise.

But in response to the human rights body probe, he hit back at the commission saying it was a “vile dog unleashed to maul the black majority, to manage them, to sanitise their history and to keep them in check when expressing their history and articulating their black pain.”

SAHRC spokesperson Gail Smith they were concerned by Mr Zuma’s "statements that promote hatred based on race".

“The SAHRC views Mr Zuma’s comments about the Commission and its constitutional mandate as a contravention of section 4(3) of the South African Human Rights Act, (SAHRC Act) Act 40 of 2013,” read a statement from the agency.

Earlier in the week, Mr Zuma had said he stands by every line he wrote in the letter.

But he later apologised after the ANC KwaZulu-Natal threatened to charge him if he failed to retract the letter by Wednesday evening.

Thursday morning, the ANC said it had received the apology. SAHRC said it will nonetheless proceed with its legal action against the president’s son.

“The Commission will be taking this matter to the Equality Court. The Commission strongly believes the contents of the open letter constitute hate speech, which contravenes freedom of expression as established in Section 16 of the South African Constitution,” Ms Smith said.

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