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IT is illegal and unconstitutional to say or publish the controversial phrase “dubul’ibhunu” (“shoot the boer”), according to an order issued by a Johannesburg high court judge yesterday.
Acting Judge Leon Halgryn accepted that these Zulu words mean “shoot the boer/white man” and constitute hate speech, and that uttering or publishing them could be a criminal offence if the intention is to encourage crime.
People uttering such phrases can therefore be criminally charged and will have to prove that an utterance was not intended as an incitement to commit a crime.
Willie Spies, legal representative of AfriForum and TAU SA, said yesterday, “The order emphasises how important it is that people like [ANC youth leader] Julius Malema should be forced to desist from such utterances. We will use the order to support our application for an interdict against Malema in the Pretoria high court next week.”
The ANC, which reportedly intends appealing against the judgment, expressed astonishment at the court’s failure to approach it for input on the history and purpose of the struggle song Ayesaba Amagwala (the cowards are scared).
The song’s lyrics include the words: “aw dubul’ibhunu (shoot the Boer) ’a magwala (the cowards are scared) dubula dubula (shoot shoot)”.
This is the first time a South African court has ever made such a finding about this phrase, according to Professor Pierre de Vos, a University of Cape Town constitutional expert.
De Vos said the implication of Halgryn’s order is that the Johannesburg high court and any lower court in the country will have to heed and follow it if anything similar is brought before them. Even high courts in other regions could note the order and follow it, unless they believe it is wrong.
According to De Vos, the Human Rights Commission’s (HRC) court of appeal has already previously found the utterance “Kill the boer” to be hate speech. However, a court judgment is more binding than that of a law forum like the HRC.
Halgryn’s order came after Willem Harmse of Delmas brought an application against Muhammed Vawda of Barberton. Both are members of a countrywide association that fights for citizens’ constitutional rights. The organisation is planning a protest against crime, and particularly against the murder of farmers, in Church Square in Pretoria on April 9, Vawda told Beeld yesterday.
“The white farmers [in the association] started talking about the controversial ‘dubul’ibhunu’. I suggested we make a banner with these words on it for our protest, as people interpret the words as meaning ‘kill apartheid’. I thought it would show the world that we agree that apartheid had to be done away with and that we have become a mature democracy, but are asking for the murders to be ended now.”
But Harmse, a businessman, strongly disagreed with Vawda: “One cannot change the meaning of words. ‘Dubul’ibhunu’ means that white people and farmers must be shot. It is war talk and contrary to what the protest is about. Muhammed and I are still friends, but we agreed that the court should decide,” said Harmse. He straightened Vawda’s red tie before Beeld took a picture of the two of them.
The protest will still go ahead, and Vawda said he accepts the order. Banners with the words “Kill crime, save the farmer” will now be used.
Advocate Johan du Plessis, who acted for Harmse, said that in view of an agreement between Harmse and Vawda even before the judge’s order, in terms of which the judge made the order, Vawda will not be able to appeal. “It is a final order.”