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Malema endorsed abuse levelled at journalists, court told

The submission was heard in the application brought by the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) and five journalists in Pretoria on Monday.

EFF leader Julius Malema and EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee (right) in the High Court in Pretoria on 4 July 2019. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

PRETORIA - The Equality Court on Monday heard how Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema stated publicly that he would not do anything to stop the abuse levelled at journalists by his party's supporters.

The submission was heard in the application brought by the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) and five journalists in Pretoria on Monday.

The applicants asked the court to interdict Malema and the EFF from intimidating and harassing journalists and prohibit the publishing of their personal information and to denounce such conduct by their supporters.

Sanef's advocate Daniel Burger referred to an incident when journalist Pauli van Wyk called out an EFF supporter for harassing reporters.

“…And she tweets, 'Julius Malema should take responsibility for violence levelled against journalists. He is stoking flames of a campaign against journalists whose work he disputes and ultimately endanger the lives of journalists'. Mr Malema tweets a response and says, ‘you are sick, go to hell’.”

Burger referred to another incident where editor Adriaan Basson laid a formal criminal complaint with the police after death threats were directed at him.

“Mr Basson tweets, ‘Just opened a criminal case of intimidation against EFF supporter for threatening to kill me. SA Police Service very professional and I will assist them in clamping down the suspect. No condemnation yet from the EFF'. Mr Malema sees the tweet and he tweets, ‘we won’t do it’.”

PROTECTION FROM HATE SPEECH

The EFF told the Equality Court that it would be treading on dangerous terrain if it granted protection to journalists from hate speech.

The party’s advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi said the court should reject Sanef's argument that journalists should be afforded protection.

“That is why we are invited to a dangerous terrain when we are told to expand the class of persons that enjoy protection against hate speech.”

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