The SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) welcomes the judgment handed down in the Equality Court this morning confirming that COSATU International Relations Spokesperson Bongani Masuku was guilty of hate speech against the Jewish community. The case was brought by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) after Masuku refused to comply with its ruling on a complaint lodged by the SAJBD in 2009.
In his judgment, Mr Justice Moshidi declared the impugned statements by Masuku to be “hurtful; harmful; incite harm and propagate hatred; and amount to hate speech as envisaged in section 10 of the Equality Act 4 of 2000. The respondents, comprising Masuku and COSATU, were ordered to tender an unconditional apology to the Jewish community within thirty days of the order.
The case has its origins in a complaint lodged with the SAHRC by the SAJBD in April 2009. The complaint related to various threatening and abusive statements made by Masuku against Jewish South Africans who supported Israel. In December 2009, the SAHRC upheld the complaint, concluding that the remarks in question indeed constituted hate speech against the Jewish community and directing Masuku to apologise. When Masuku, backed by COSATU, refused to do so, the SAHRC approached the Equality Court in order to get its ruling enforced.
The remarks by Masuku deemed to be offensive included threats that COSATU would target and cause harm to South African families who had members serving in the Israeli defense force and that Jews who continued to stand up for Israel should “not just be encouraged but forced to leave South Africa”.
The SAJBD particularly welcomes the fact that in terms of the judgment, threats and insults against Jews who support Israel cannot be justified on the alleged basis that such attacks are aimed not at Jews but at ‘Zionists’.
In the spirit of conciliation and acceptance of diversity, the SAJBD hopes that Bongani Masuku and COSATU will comply with the court’s judgment that Mr Masuku apologise to the Jewish community, thereby bringing this painful matter to finality and allowing all the parties to move on.