HATE SPEECH

Agrizzi eats humble pie and forks out 200K

By Bheki C. Simelane 27 June 2019

Angelo Agrizzi appears outside the Equality Court, which sat at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court, on 27 June, 2019. After a settlement was reached, Agrizzi will pay R200 000 to the Barney Mokgatle Foundation. On his left is Barney Mokgatle, and right, teacher Nkepile Masite, from he creche which will be a beneficiary. Photo: Bheki Simelane Bheki Simelane

Bosasa whistleblower Angelo Agrizzi's use of the k-word has cost him a couple of hundred thousand rand – and a grovelling public apology.

Former Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi agreed to a R200,000 settlement agreement with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) following his racist slur admission at the Zondo Commission in 2018.

The Equality Court sitting at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court heard the hate speech case on Thursday 26 June.

The indictment arose from a secret audio recording made during a meeting at Agrizzi’s Fourways, Johannesburg home with Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson, his children and nephew, and in which Agrizzi uses the k-word to refer to Bosasa black directors.

A clip of Agrizzi’s racist slurs was played at the Zondo CommissionDeputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo referred to Agrizzi’s references as “extremely offensive and totally unacceptable”.

Thursday’s hearing was delayed while magistrate Neelan Karikan considered a request from eNCA and Newzroom Afrika to broadcast proceedings. The request was granted.

SAHRC’s Buang Jones said the parties had a meeting on 13 June 2019 at which Agrizzi’s legal representative Mannie Witz was also present.

Indeed we met at the human rights commission offices and an agreement was reached and we paid the agreement settlement,” Witz said.

In terms of the agreement:

  • [Agrizzi] agrees that the repeated use of the hate speech during a recorded conversation in 2018 constitutes hate speech as defined in Section 10 (1) of the Equality Act.

  • [Agrizzi] shall issue an apology to all South Africans on the date of the court order.

  • [Agrizzi] shall provide the [SAHRC] with a draft of the apology for pre-approval before the apology is published.

  • [Agrizzi] shall be interdicted and restrained from publishing, propagating, advocating or communicating hate speech as defined in Section 10 (1) of the Equality Act.

  • [Agrizzi] agrees to pay the amount of R200,000 to a charitable organisation that promotes social cohesion, non-racialism, social justice and reconciliation in Alexandra, which organisation shall be the Barney Mokgatle Foundation

Witz said: “I confirm the statement and accept that it was signed by myself in the presence of my client Agrizzi. The amount will be paid in court but the recipients will be visited in Alexandra on Tuesday [2 June]. We are happy with the agreement as it covers all the various aspects.”

Jones said in terms of the human rights commission’s use of corrective measures, the R200,000 was not a penal sanction but was a deterrent against people engaging in similar conduct.

Everyone’s right to dignity must be respected. We hope we can use this case to eradicate racism in the country in the future.”

Speaking outside court, Jones said, “We accept that the remarks are offensive, hurtful in all senses; it’s intentionally disparaging. We also welcome the decision by Angelo Agrizzi to apologise to all South Africans and for agreeing to the terms of the settlement.

We are guided by the Equality Act which enjoins us to always apply corrective and restorative measures in matters such as this. We see this as a restorative measure. We see this as a fellow South African wanting to contribute to the betterment of our own society.”

Jones confirmed the R200,000 would go to the Barney Mokgatle Foundation, led by Barney Mokgatle, a resident of Alexandra. The SAHRC has been at the centre of establishing what happened to the Alexandra Renewal Project, which should have served as the township’s silver bullet amidst the deteriorating socio-economic challenges in the township.

People in Alexandra are still living in squalor, notwithstanding that they should be enjoying 25 years of democracy,” added Jones.

In a public apology outside the court Agrizzi said: “The apology comes from the heart, and yes, I’m deeply sorry. And, as I said in the Zondo Commission, once more I say it again, and I’ll keep saying it. I’m deeply sorry. The wounds are still raw, and for me to be one of the people to rub salt in the wound was despicable.”

And, from my heart to all South Africans, I really apologise for what I said. Even if it was unlawful, I really apologise for what I have said. I really apologise even if it was disseminated by someone else. From the bottom of my heart, I say it should never have happened.”

Added Agrizzi, “The reason I agreed to a donation is because if you read up about Mr Mokgatle, you find he is a phenomenal man, and I’m privileged, not only to be able to donate but also to visit and spend time with them. Let’s face it, we have a beautiful country and we cannot have South Africans like myself again going out there and using … the k-word or anything derogatory”.

I really hope that this helps brings social cohesion in South Africa. Mokgatle was able to bring social cohesion to South African society to make a difference. Spending time with the kids in Alexandra, who are really having a rough period will be a privilege and honour for me.”

Jones said while Agrizzi confessed, former Bosasa CEO Watson will be served with litigation papers for disseminating the information. DM

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