AfriForum's Roets defends display of old flag, says Mandela Foundation's case has no merit

03 September 2019 - 12:27 By ERNEST MABUZA
AfriForum's head of policy and action, Ernst Roets, has been accused of gratuitously and publicly displaying the old South African flag on Twitter under the pretext of academic debate.
AfriForum's head of policy and action, Ernst Roets, has been accused of gratuitously and publicly displaying the old South African flag on Twitter under the pretext of academic debate.
Image: Martin Rhodes

The high court in Johannesburg has postponed until Wednesday an application by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to declare that AfriForum's head of policy and action, Ernst Roets, was in contempt of court for displaying the old South African flag.

Judge Collin Lamont told lawyers for the foundation and AfriForum on Tuesday that he could not hear the application as there were other cases he needed to deal with on the court's urgent roll.

The foundation wants the court to declare Roets in contempt of court for displaying the old flag.

The foundation said Roets gratuitously and publicly displayed the flag on Twitter under the pretext of academic debate two weeks ago. In a tweet, Roets posted a picture of the flag, asking: "Did I just commit hate speech?"


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The display happened on the same day the equality court declared the display of the old flag, even in private spaces, constituted hate speech. However, the court said the flag could be used for artistic, academic and journalistic expression in the public interest.

Speaking outside the high court on Tuesday after the matter was postponed, Roets said his and AfriForum’s argument was that the complaint by the foundation had no merit.

“We will be arguing for the whole thing to be thrown out but, in the alternative, if the matter continues, we will argue firstly that it is not urgent and also that the comment I made was completely within the realm and the ambit of the judgment,” Roets said.

Roets said his tweet fell under the proviso that the display of the old flag must be confined to genuine artistic, academic or journalistic expression in the public interest.

However, the foundation said the Equality Act did not protect academic displays made in bad faith.


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