Malema 'hate speech' case to hear evidence on high school street brawl

28 February 2024 - 12:03
By Kim Swartz
Community members confronted EFF protesters at Brackenfell High School on November 10 2020. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander/Sunday Times Community members confronted EFF protesters at Brackenfell High School on November 10 2020. File photo.

A hate speech case against EFF leader Julius Malema continues on Wednesday in the Equality Court which is expected to hear from a witness who was assaulted during a clash between parents and EFF supporters outside a school in Cape Town.

Dante van Wyk, who brought the hate speech case against Malema, was involved in the altercation outside Brackenfell High School in November 2020. He is joined in the case by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) which previously found words uttered by Malema, related to the incident, amounted to hate speech and incitement to violence.

EFF members protested outside the school after learning that a planned matric farewell, during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, apparently excluded black pupils. The school was cleared of racism allegations by the SAHRC.

Van Wyk heard about the protest, according to his affidavit, and joined residents in a bid to shield the school and pupils. Residents confronted the EFF members and there was an altercation. A video of the incident circulated on the internet identifying Van Wyk in the fracas.

Days later there was a protest at the school, dubbed the “Battle of Brackenfell”.

“After the incident, I was inundated with messages on social media from EFF supporters. Many of them were of an aggressive, threatening nature,” said Van Wyk. 

“I received about 4,000 such messages in a short time. It caused me to remove my profile from social media.” He told the court he went into hiding for two months.

Malema, speaking at a party rally in the Western Cape in October 2022, told supporters: “You were beaten by white people and there is a white man who is visible on camera ... why have you not as a revolutionary organisation followed up on that guy, him alone, to take that guy in an isolated space and attend to the guy properly?” 

“Tell that white man to try me ... no white man is going to beat me up and call myself a revolutionary the following day,” he added.

“You must never be scared to kill [in] a revolution, demand that at some point there must be killing because the killing is part of a revolutionary act.”

Van Wyk said the words made it clear that, apart from the other white people involved, he should be killed. 

The SAHRC found Malema's words, at that time, amounted to hate speech and instructed him and the party to apologise within 10 days. No apology or retraction was forthcoming.

Advocate Mfesane Ka-Siboto, representing Malema and the EFF, introduced evidence on Tuesday, disputing suggestions that Malema hates white people. The court was shown footage of Malema addressing the EFF list conference in Durban on February 11, saying he “does not hate white people”.

Ka-Siboto said Malema hated racism, not white people.

Van Wyk is seeking a court order protecting him from being harmed by EFF members, an apology from Malema and payment of R1m by the EFF leader. 

The case continues.