SUNDAY TIMES - EFF's Gupta comments are actual threats - judge
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Sunday Times News By Agency Staff, 2016-02-12 17:16:39.0

EFF's Gupta comments are actual threats - judge

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema (C) waits to address supporters before a march to the constitutional court in Johannesburg, February 9, 2016.
Image: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI REUTERS

The EFF's statements about the Gupta brothers and their employees were not merely part of its campaigning for the upcoming elections, but actual threats of violence, the High Court in Pretoria has found.

Judge Johan Louw on Friday handed down reasons for the interdict he granted on Tuesday to stop the Economic Freedom Fighters, its leader Julius Malema and Gauteng spokesperson Ntobeng Ntobeng from repeating or making further threats of violence against the Gupta brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh and their employees.

The interdict was granted while EFF members were protesting outside the Constitutional Court, waving posters stating "Guptas must go", "Honeymoon is over for Guptas" and "We'll fight war with war", and singing "Shoot Zuma, shoot the Guptas".

The Constitutional Court matter involved the Public Protector's powers and her recommendations that President Jacob Zuma pay back a portion of the money spent on the upgrades to his Nkandla homestead. 

The EFF and its leaders were interdicted from participating in any conduct promoting the removal of the Guptas from Gauteng or South Africa.

They were also interdicted from interfering with the activities of journalists from The New Age and ANN7 or preventing them from attending any public political events such as marches, gatherings or meetings by any political party, including those of the EFF.

Malema insisted his statements that no one could guarantee the Guptas' safety in Gauteng were not equivalent to calling for violence against them, but was simply part of robust political debate in an election year.

However, Judge Louw said this proposition merely had to be stated to be rejected.

He said it ignored the wording of a February 7 press release stating that the "Zuptas" must vacate South Africa, "otherwise the predictability of what could happen to them and any of their properties becomes a highly volatile matter".

"No reasonable and right-thinking person would consider the statement not to be a threat of violence and that the respondents were merely campaigning for the upcoming elections.

"...They don't allege that any violence has been committed by any of the respondents. Their case is that in view of the statements which have been made, their right not to be threatened with violence has been infringed and that they have a reasonable apprehension that violence will be committed against them."

'Move out the way'

Regarding the EFF's statements that they were going to physically drive the "Zuptas" out of Gauteng by any means, the judge said one had to look at the type of words that were used, and not what Malema said he intended to convey.

Malema said the statement did not convey any threat of violence and merely meant that the EFF "would act lawfully" to force the Gupta family out of Gauteng.

The interpretation by the respondents ignores the word 'physically' and the words 'by any means possible'. No reasonable and right-thinking member of society would consider the statement to exclude violence as a means of driving the Guptas out of Gauteng.

"The applicants and their employees have a constitutionally protected right not to be threatened with violence.

"The statements made by the respondents, as they would be understood by a reasonable and right thinking person, caused the applicants to reasonable apprehend that they would be harmed," Louw said.

Malema told reporters in Johannesburg last week that: "Gupta must leave the country. We are tired of talking about [the] Guptas. We are going to take practical action."

"Gupta media must no longer come to EFF events. We don't want to see The New Age and ANN7," he said. 

Addressing the reporters from The New Age and ANN7, Malema cautioned them to "move out the way".

"Sisters and brothers in Gupta firms, we love you and don't want you to be casualties... We cannot guarantee the safety of those printing New Age and ANN7."

Source: News24