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Zikalala welcomes court ruling on racist guesthouse owner Andre Slade

04 December 2018 - 11:33 By Bongani Mthethwa
Guesthouse owner Andre Slade.
Guesthouse owner Andre Slade.

KwaZulu-Natal economic development and tourism MEC Sihle Zikalala has welcomed a Durban High Court decision upholding an earlier ruling by the Equality Court finding racist guesthouse owner Andre Slade and his partner Katarina Krizaniova guilty of hate speech.

Zikalala, in his capacity as the MEC responsible for tourism in the province, laid charges against Slade after his now infamous utterances in 2016 that "God's word" said whites were superior, that blacks were classified in the Bible as "animals" and that whites had a "crown" on their heads that blacks did not.

Slade also sent out an e-mail barring black people from his Sodwana Bay guesthouse, which went viral.

He was reported to the Equality Court. In February, magistrate Thamo Moodley ordered the 55-year-old guesthouse owner and his partner to pay R50,000 to a non-profit organisation in Mtubatuba in northern KZN.

But Slade and Krizaniova took the decision on review, on the basis that Moodley had constrained their right to lead evidence and failed to acknowledge their freedom of expression as enshrined in the constitution.

In her judgment, handed down on November 30, Durban High Court judge Esther Steyn said Equality Court proceedings "were in accordance with justice".

"As much as the constitution recognises the right to religious freedom, it does not grant the right to discriminate against other human beings in the name of such a belief system," said Steyn.

"Simply put, the right to religion and freedom of association cannot be used as tools to destroy the right to equality and human dignity."

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Zikalala welcomed Steyn's ruling. "I am pleased and satisfied with the findings of the honourable court that Mr Slade's conduct can never be tolerated in a democratic society," he said.

Zikalala said tourists should never be racially profiled, adding that he had faith in the country's justice system.

"We welcome the findings and we hope this will send a strong message to anyone with intentions to taint our renowned tourism industry or anyone hell-bent on polarising our society," he said.

"This is why this court judgment is critical to us, as it sends out a strong message that KwaZulu-Natal especially - and South Africa in general - have no place for people who want to take us back to a period where certain recreational facilities and amenities were the preserve of a certain race, to the detriment of others."