'SAHRC wants to punish Velaphi Khumalo twice' over Hitler remark: lawyer

02 July 2018 - 13:44 By Nomahlubi Jordaan
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

Velaphi Khumalo‚ the man who called for black South Africans to do to white people what "Hitler did to the Jews" says he has accepted that the statements he made were "grossly inappropriate".

His counsel‚ Stuart Wilson‚ told the Equality Court sitting at the South Gauteng High Court on Monday that Khumalo had‚ immediately after making them‚ apologised to all "the people of South Africa" for the statements.

He had also been disciplined by his employer for his actions‚ the court heard.

"Not only did he apologise profusely‚ he faced disciplinary action by his employer‚" Wilson argued.

"There is no doubt that Mr Khumalo should not have said what he said.

"However‚ the question to be asked was whether he can be sued twice in the Equality Court for hate speech which arose from the same remarks."

The first complaint against Khumalo was lodged by the African National Congress (ANC).

Khumalo and the ANC reached a settlement that he would pay R30‚000 over the course of 30 months‚ to a charity.

"The SAHRC (SA Human Rights Commission) is coming after Mr Khumalo for substantially the same words for which the ANC successfully sued him in the earlier case.

"Even though there is no identity of parties‚ the issue being pursued is virtually identical. What the SAHRC wants is to punish Mr Khumalo twice."

He described the SAHRC's action against Khumalo as an abuse of process.

Wilson argued that while Khumalo's statements were meant to hurt‚ coming as they did from a place of hurt and anger‚ a reasonable person could not seriously have thought that his words were actually intended to cause or incite any real harm.

Khumalo's words did not constitute hate speech‚ Wilson argued.

"A reasonable person would have read the words in context‚ and would have understood them as meaningless hyperbole.

"Mr Khumalo was‚ at the time he made his remarks‚ engaged in a fierce debate about the meaning of another Facebook post that likened black people to ‘monkeys’ who had been ‘released’ onto ‘public beaches’ for New Year's Eve‚" Wilson contended.

He said Khumalo had been deeply offended by Penny Sparrow's post.

"Even more offensive to him were the goading and hurtful remarks made on Facebook in support of Miss Sparrow's post.

"Like all black people in South Africa‚ Mr Khumalo has grown up in a society that continues to suggest to him‚ in ways both overt and subtle‚ that he is somewhat less than human.

"Mr Khumalo has to cope with the fearful overhang‚ from apartheid‚ of structural racism and economic disadvantage. This background noise of racial disadvantage is punctuated by words and conduct‚ such as those of Miss Sparrow."

The hearing continues.

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