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Legal commentators question Mkhwebane's findings on Zille colonialism tweets

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane found that Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s tweet about colonialism violated the Constitution because it amounted to an incitement of imminent violence.

FILE: Western Cape Premier Helen Zille. Photo: Bertram Malgas/EWN

PRETORIA – Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane found that Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s tweet about colonialism violated the Constitution because it amounted to an incitement of imminent violence.

Legal commentators have already started to question the finding, suggesting even law students would not reach that conclusion.

Zille tweeted last year that “for those claiming that the legacy of colonialism was only negative” they should look at various aspects of South Africa’s development, such as the judiciary and other infrastructure.

In the full report, advocate Mkhwebane draws a comparison between Zille’s colonialism tweet and an academic who was recently criticised and ostracised for writing about the benefits of colonialism.

The advocate then cites a 2002 case in the European Court of Human Rights, where a cartoonist was convicted of condoning terrorism for lampooning the 11 September attacks in New York.

Mkhwebane concludes that like the offending European cartoon provoked a public reaction, so too could insensitive comments about colonialism, in the South African context.

The Public Protector says there is a likelihood that Zille’s tweets could stir up violence based on race.

Zille has indicated she will take the report on review.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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