The South African Human Rights Commission is to take steps to criminally charge President Jacob Zuma’s son‚ Edward‚ for what it called “disturbing and offensive statements” he made in an open letter which it believes constitutes hate speech.
The announcement comes on the heels of the news that Edward Zuma had finally apologised for his vitriolic open letter in which he attacked senior ANC leaders Pravin Gordhan and Derek Hanekom.
ANC KwaZulu-Natal spokesman Mdumiseni Ntuli confirmed on Thursday morning that Edward had apologised for calling former finance minister Gordhan “a stooge of white monopoly capital” and former tourism minister Hanekom a “white Afrikaner askari.”
The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal had given Edward until midnight on Wednesday to retract his letter or face the consequences.
Ntuli said Zuma’s son called him on Thursday morning informing him that he had sent the letter to the ANC offices on Wednesday.
When he heard that the SAHRC was investigating him over the statements which it said promoted “hatred based on race”‚ Edward described the human rights watchdog as “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”. On Monday‚ SAHRC chairperson Advocate Bongani Majola said that after consideration of the matter‚ he had decided to act on the “disturbing and offensive” statements contained in the open letter.
“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‚” Majola said.
“The Commission is also concerned with Mr Zuma’s statements in the media in response to the SAHRC’s initial statement‚ released on Friday‚ 28th July 2017. 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.
“The section in question clearly states that: ‘No… person may interfere with‚ hinder or obstruct the Commission‚ any commissioner‚ a member of staff… in the exercise or performance of its or his or her powers and functions.’ A contravention of this section constitutes an offence in terms of Section 22 of the SAHRC Act.
“The Commission will therefore take steps to criminally charge Mr Zuma‚” Majola added.