Judge in AfriForum case: Singing ‘Dubul’ ibhunu’ struggle song not hate speech
Judge Edwin Molahlehi has dismissed AfriForum’s hate speech case against the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), over its use of the song as well as of 'Biza Ama Fire Brigade' (‘call the fire brigade’), by the party’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi at the Brendin Horner murder case in 2020.
JOHANNESBURG - Johannesburg High Court Judge Edwin Molahlehi on Thursday said declaring struggle song Dubul’ Ibhunu (shoot the boer) hate speech, would “significantly alter or curtail freedom of expression”.
Molahlehi has dismissed AfriForum’s hate speech case against the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) over its use of the song, as well as of Biza Ama Fire Brigade (‘call the fire brigade’), by the party’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi at the Brendin Horner murder case in 2020.
In his full judgment, a written copy of which was made available after he delivered a summary in court, the judge said as he understood the song in its political and cultural context, that “it has traversed time in the history of South African politics”.
He said today, it “projects the political vision of [the] EFF in a new dimension of a strategy of achieving radical economic transformation”.
Molahleli in his ruling said he accepted EFF leader Julius Malema’s evidence that Dubul’ Ibhunu, while originally a struggle song, was today directed at “the issue of land justice and in this respect more towards highlighting the failures of the current government.
He said if anything, “this called for a generous delineation of the bounds of the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression”. Molahleli added that “it may well be that under a different inquiry, it may be found that the song is offensive and undermining of the political establishment”.
But he found that it didn’t constitute hate speech under the Equality Act and said in his view “the singing of the impugned song and its lyrics should be left to the political contestations and engagement on its message by the political role players”.
When it comes to Biza Ama Fire Brigade meanwhile, the judge rejected the evidence put up by the Institute for Race Relations’ head of campaigns, Gabriel Crouse for AfriForum, suggesting a link between the singing of the song in Senekal and subsequent farm fires several kilometres away.
He found there was no further evidence put forward in this regard.