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'It is hate speech irrespective of race': Black businessman guilty of using k-word to describe former friend

22 August 2019 - 12:21 By NOMAHLUBI JORDAAN
Peter-Paul Ngwenya has been found guilty of crimen injuria but says he will appeal.
Peter-Paul Ngwenya has been found guilty of crimen injuria but says he will appeal.
Image: Sunday Times/Thuli Dlamini

Politically connected businessman Peter-Paul Ngwenya was found guilty of crimen injuria in the Randburg magistrate's court on Thursday.

Magistrate Pravina Raghoonandan found that his use of the k-word in 2016 showed ultimate disrespect, regardless of race, and could not be accepted as part of a culture.

Ngwenya had argued that the use of the word between black people was normal and acceptable.

Raghoonandan acquitted Ngwenya on two counts of contravening protection orders.

Ngwenya‚ who spent almost five years on Robben Island‚ had been charged with two counts of contravening a protection order granted to his former long-term friend Fani Titi and one count of crimen injuria for calling Free State-born Titi a "Qwaqwa k****r" and a "Bantustan boss" in a text message. The SMS was intended for Aqeel Patel‚ the managing director of MRC Media.

In the same text message Ngwenya told Patel “you will bleed” and that Titi “will see his mother”. Titi regarded this as a threat to his life since Ngwenya knew his mother had died.

The conflict between Ngwenya and Titi‚ who had been friends for 20 years‚ stemmed from a multimillion-rand deal that went sour.

Ngwenya had argued, through his legal counsel, that the k-word only became offensive when it was used by a white person to a black person.

"The k- word is a term that cannot be heard without cringing. It shows the ultimate disrespect," said Raghoonandan.

She said that Ngwenya had a history of contributing to the struggle of the country and should have known the use of the word amounted to hate speech and would impair Titi's dignity.

"He is aware of the use of the word. It can't be accepted by this court that it is part of of the culture. It is hate speech irrespective of race," Raghoonandan found.

Ngwenya's counsel said they would appeal.

"She used principles of hate speech to convict us on crimen injuria," said Ngwenya's counsel, advocate Nqabayethu Buthelezi.

Ngwenya's bail was extended.

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