Former columnist Jon Qwelane, who is not okay with gays, might have won the battle in getting a hate speech judgment against him set aside after he failed to appear in court, but it seems he’ll soon have to be back to explain himself. CARIEN DU PLESSIS reports.
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has confirmed that it will continue with its case against former columnist and ambassador to Uganda, Jon Qwelane, for a column he wrote in the Sunday Sun in 2008 titled “Call me names, but gay is NOT ok”.
SAHRC spokesman Vincent Moaga on Monday told Daily Maverick the commission would take up the case again, but a court date still had to be decided.
A guilty judgment by the Equality Court earlier this year was set aside in August because Qwelane was not in court in May when the case was heard, as he was on sick leave.
He also did not appoint lawyers to defend him.
In May the court ruled that there was only one version presented to them – that of the SAHRC – and this argument had to be accepted. This was set aside by the court later because the judgment was not allowed as it was done at a directions hearing, meant to iron out procedural matters before a case is heard.
Seeing that the judgment in the case was rescinded on a technicality and not on the merit of his arguments, the old case can continue and the commission need not bring a new case against him.
In his column, Qwelane praised President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe for his “unflinching and unapologetic stance over homosexuals” and said that he prayed that men and women would some day have “the balls to rewrite the (South African) Constitution” to disallow gay marriages again.
He also equated homosexuality with bestiality.
There was a huge outcry when Qwelane was appointed ambassador to Uganda by an unapologetic President Jacob Zuma in January 2010.
Uganda’s government is known for its anti-gay stance. DM