Court victory in war against racism
By: SHERLISSA PETERS
Durban – It was a victory for the war against hate speech on Tuesday when the Pietermaritzburg High Court confirmed an interdict against Phumlani Mfeka, a former member of the so-called Mazibuye African Forum, preventing him from advocating hate speech and inciting violence, particularly against the Indian community.
Judge Kobus Booyens confirmed the order, which was sought in an urgent application by Willies Mchunu, the KZN MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, and Ravi Pillay, the KZN MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works, last week.
According to the final order, Mfeka is interdicted from discriminating against or advocating violence against the Indian community, or any community in KZN; and restrains him from making statements, “orally or in writing or by any means of electronic media”, that may incite racial violence.
Mfeka was ordered to remove any such statements from electronic media, including Facebook and Twitter.
Mfeka did not oppose the application.
The judge granted the interdicted despite the sheriff of the court being unable to serve him the papers as he could not be found.
According to a news report, advocate Piet Bezuidenhout, acting on behalf of the two MECs, had, in court, handed an e-mail response from Mfeka as proof that he was aware of the court application.
Mfeka had responded to attorneys acting for both the MECs.
The news report said the e-mail informed Mfeka of the court interdict preventing him from making or publishing racial utterances.
Mchunu and Pillay are members of the Social Cohesion Committee established by the Provincial Executive Council to ensure the willingness of co-operation in the province. They obtained the urgent interdict against Mfeka to prevent a potentially devastating fallout from the anti-Indian text message Mfeka had sent to Pillay.
The text promoted anti-Indian sentiment and advocated violence.
According to Mchunu’s affidavit, Mfeka, now a member of Injenje yama-Nguni, and the Mazibuye African Forum have received much media attention because of derogatory remarks they made about people of Indian descent.
He said these remarks were not, however, as militant as the recent text message.
Mchunu informed the court that Mfeka had previously expressed anti-Indian sentiment in a newspaper column in 2013 and also later via social media.
He said the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation supported an application by the SA Human Rights Commission against racist comments by the Mazibuye African Forum and Mfeka.
Earlier this week, the Daily News reported that the South African Minority Rights Equality Movement had pressed criminal charges against Mfeka.
It also has an Equality Court matter against him which is expected to be heard in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday.
In response to these cases, Mfeka had told the Daily News he would “continue to speak the truth”.
When asked if he would not be in contempt of court with his action, Mfeka said: “If speaking the truth is contempt of court, let it be.”