Khumalo said his statements were not hate speech
Velaphi Khumalo, who said South Africa should be cleansed of white people, does not believe his statements can be classified as hate speech – even though the Human Rights Commission (HRC) described it as one of the clearest cases of hate speech. Khumalo appeared in court before judge Roland Sutherland in Johannesburg, where the HRC argued why he should be punished heavier.
Khumalo’s legal team, however, argued that the commission cannot proceed with their complaint against him, as Khumalo was already sentenced in another court, the equality court. The court will later listen to further arguments from the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) before a decision will be made whether the case will continue. In both cases, charges against Khumalo come from two Facebook entries he made on January 4, 2016. He said, among other things, that South Africa should be cleansed of white people, “just as Hitler did with the Jews.”
Shortly after the entry, Khumalo returned to Facebook and apologized for his “emotional statements on a public platform that did not reflect the ideologies of a democratic community.” The ANC immediately filed a complaint of unfair discrimination and hate speech against Khumalo at the Equality Court in Roodepoort. During those proceedings it was agreed to withdraw all the complaints against Khumalo, provided he agreed to a settlement agreement. Under this agreement by the Roodepoort court, Khumalo had to pay R30 000 as compensation to a charitable organization over a period of 30 months, and he also had to speak about racism at various public schools.
The HRC, however, believes Khumalo has come off too light and approached the court with the request that the matter be reconsidered.
On Monday, the HRC argued, although the Constitution gives everyone the right to freedom of speech, it does not give anyone the right to raise violence against people because of their racial or religious convictions. “It is clear from an objective interpretation of the statement (Khumalo’s statement) that it has triggered genocide against white people,” said the HRC. The HRC therefore asked Sutherland to issue an explanatory order that Khumalo’s statements were hate speech. They also demand that Khumalo pay compensation of R150 000 and that his case must be referred to the Director of Public Prosecution, which is responsible for prosecuting Khumalo in a criminal prosecution.
The HRC also asked Khumalo to be ordered to offer an unconditional public apology to all South Africans and to never again be guilty of similar statements. Adv. Stuart Wilson, Khumalo’s legal representative, however argued that Sutherland should rather abandon the whole case against his client. “He almost fell over his feet to apologize immediately. Although his words were unfortunate, it was certainly not hate speech,” Wilson said. Khumalo also argued in his court documents that his statements were fuelled by a blinding rage in response to racist statements made by Penny Sparrow who referred to blacks on Durban’s beaches as monkeys. Wilson argued that Khumalo should not be further pursued, because he is not referring in his statements about farm murders and that he has not called for genocide at all. He also believed that blacks are predominantly more victims of crime than white people. The case resumes Tuesday in the Equality Court.