A South African union spokesman was found guilty of hate speech after threatening Jews who support Israel.
A South African Equality Court found the international relations spokesperson of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) guilty of hate speech against the Jewish community.
The case was brought by the South Africa Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) after Bongani Masuku refused to comply with its ruling on a complaint lodged by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) in 2009.
In his judgment, Justice Moshidi declared the 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, Masuku and COSATU, were ordered to tender an unconditional apology to the Jewish community within thirty days of the judgement .
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 support Israel.
In December 2009, the SAHRC upheld the complaint, concluding that the remarks in question constituted hate speech against the Jewish community and directing Masuku to apologize.
When Masuku, backed by COSATU, refused to do so, the SAHRC approached the Equality Court 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 IDF and that Jews who continued to support Israel should “not just be encouraged, but forced to leave South Africa.”
The SAJBD on Thursday welcomed the judgment, and particularly the judgment that 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 Masuku apologize to the Jewish community, thereby, bringing this painful matter to finality and allowing all the parties to move on,” the spokesperson for the Jewish community said.