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'Your obsession with my name is shocking': Panyaza Lesufi tells AfriForum amid R500,000 lawsuit

28 July 2022 - 11:00
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.
Image: Vathiswa Ruselo/Sowetan

Gauteng ANC chairperson and education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has responded to AfriForum's R500,000 lawsuit over an alleged racism claim, saying the group is obsessed with him. 

The lobby group is reportedly suing the MEC for allegedly calling it a “racist” during an interview last month after his election as ANC chairperson in Gauteng.

The group said Lesufi has until Friday to pay up the money or he will need to defend his comments in court.

“Your obsession with my name is shocking,” said Lesufi, responding to a report about the alleged demands. 

In a recent interview on SABC News, Lesufi said he hates racism.

“Racists are mindless, useless and selfish. We must not tolerate racists. AfriForum and many other organisations that are coming to our country to represent a certain race in a certain language must not be tolerated,” he said. 

This is not their first public squabble.

Previously, AfriForum filed a defamation suit against Lesufi after he claimed during a televised interview in 2019 that the lobby group was trying to “assassinate” him and stalk his children.

TimesLIVE reported at the time that AfriForum’s Kallie Kriel had denied the allegations, and said the group would be going for Lesufi’s “bank account by suing him for defamation”.

It demanded an unconditional apology and said the MEC should be held accountable for his alleged “polarising statements and outrageous lies”.

Lesufi responded by alleging he was being targeted because of his remarks about Orania, an exclusively Afrikaner town in the Northern Cape.

“My sin was to speak against Orania. Like other previous attempts, this one will also fail. I hate racism with a passion, but I am addicted to nonracialism.”

However, he later apologised in a statement issued jointly with the lobby group.

“In current times, there is an obligation on all parties to mend fences rather than break them and to take all actions that will promote dialogue and minimise the opportunity for confrontation and polarisation,” the statement read.

The statement led to some people criticising the MEC and accusing him of lying.

He hit back, saying he would never back down to racists.

“Me back down to racists? Never. I will never apologise to racists. Read the full statement. Racists are evil and mindless. They assured me they’re not going to harm me and my family and I took their word. So where’s the lie?” said Lesufi at the time. 

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