Malema may face court over the ‘makula’ slur

By Sipho Hlongwane 7 November 2011

Charges of hate speech against Indians have been lodged against  Julius Malema in Pietermaritzburg by members of the South African Minority Rights Equality Group. The group says it may drop charges if Malema meets with them to talk about the issue. By SIPHO HLONGWANE.

The South African Minority Rights Equality Group  has laid charges of hate speech against Julius Malema at the Mountain Rise police station, according to a report in the Sunday Independent. The charges arise out of a speech Malema made in October, in which he referred to Indian people as ‘makula’.

The complainants are Soobramoney Narrian, Bob Narainsamy, Ashin Singh, Ashok Singh and Jaiheen Singh, and they have charged Malema with crimen injuria and criminal defamation.

The charges relate to reports in the press that on 19 October, at a hastily-arranged rally in Tembelihle, Malema said, “There is no person who must live without electricity or water… there must be no child who can’t go to school because his parents can’t afford to pay for school fees. All children must go to school. Bana ba lena ba tshwanetse ba dumelelwe gore ba tsene sekolo le bana ba makula mona.” Translated, he said: “Your children must be allowed to go to school with Indian children”.

The word “makula” is particularly offensive and ranks alongside “coolie”, the complainants have alleged. The ANCYL later tried explain it all away claiming Malema didn’t mean to offend anyone when he referred to Indian people as “makula”. It also emerged that “makula” is pretty much the only term used to describe Indian people in certain black communities, and that no offense is meant by the word.

The SAMRME said in its affidavit that Malema referred to Indian people as “coolies”.

“The insulting term, ‘coolie’ has no place in South Africa and constitutes not just crimen injuria, but also hate speech and intimidation viewed in the context in which it was said. It has caused damage to race relations in South Africa,” Soobramoney Narrian told the Independent.

Ashin Singh, the chairman of SAMRME said to iMaverick that the charges are a mere formality, as their intention is to educate Malema, and not engage in a fight with him.

“It was never our intention to pursue the matter to court, but we told Malema that we wanted to meet with him, and he agreed in principle,” Singh said. “If he comes through to us and has a discussion, we will not pursue the charges against him in court. We are not looking for an apology. We don’t want him to go down on his knees, but rather he must sit with us at a table and have a frank discussion so we can educate him about minority rights.”

Singh said the Indian community was feeling hard done by the ANC government. He said the amended Equity Bill currently before Parliament would have a negative impact on Indians for enforcing racial quotas in both the public and private sectors. “The bill says there are too many Indians in the private sector. Where do these people get off? We were screwed over under apartheid, and we are being screwed over again,” he said.

What the group wants is not preferential treatment, but equality, Singh said.

Should things fall apart, and the charges stand, it will be Malema’s third hate speech trial in two years. In March 2010, the Equality Court found him guilty of hate speech and harassment after the Sonke Gender Justice Network, due to comments he made about the accuser in Jacob Zuma’s rape trial.

In September this year, AfriForum successfully blocked Malema from singing ‘Ayesaba Amagwala’, which contains the lyrics ‘Dubula iBhunu’(Kill the Boer) on the grounds it incited violence against Afrikaans people. Last week the Constitutional Court declined to hear an appeal on the ruling brought by the ANC and Malema, deferring the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal. The ANC had wanted to take the matter directly to the Constitutional Court. DM

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