The Constitutional Court is hearing an application about whether workers can be fired for singing the struggle song "Kill the boer". This follows workers at Duncanmec being fired for singing the song during their unprotected strike.
Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi says as far as the union is concerned, the phrase doesn't constitute hate speech but believes their members were expressing their rights to free speech.
We have a long history as South Africans of using songs to express ourselves especially as we were fighting apartheid. We have a whole library of songs that were produced as a result of the history we had.— Phakamile Hlubi, Numsa spokesperson
It is not unusual for us to continue singing these songs...— Phakamile Hlubi, Numsa spokesperson
Hlubi says in all the years that struggle songs were sung, no one has ever acted on the lyrics and taken guns to shoot white people.
She says the worker's strike was peaceful but they were dismissed purely on singing this song.
It is absurd for anyone to suggest that the songs are in any way incitement to violence.— Phakamile Hlubi, Numsa spokesperson
The workers were dismissed for singing the song not that anybody was attacked or assaulted. The management didn't even understand the lyrics of the song at the time. So you can't accuse the workers of inciting violence when you dont even know what's being said about you.— Phakamile Hlubi, Numsa spokesperson
Chairperson of the Justice Portfolio Committee in Parliament Mathole Motshekga says the lyrics of the struggle songs convey a message of dissatisfaction from the people and employers should attend to those.
He says the songs are an important part of the history of South Africa.
The struggle is the record of what motivated the people to fight against the injustice, and any attempt to erase the history of the struggle will be the gravest injustice. The future generations are entitled to know the motive and the forces that brought about the freedom that we are enjoying.— Dr Mathole Motshekga, Chairperson of Parliament's portfolio committee on justice
The struggle songs are an integral part of the history of the country... we cannot criminalise people for using songs to show their dissatisfaction.— Dr Mathole Motshekga, Chairperson of Parliament's portfolio committee on justice
To hear the rest of the conversations on struggle songs, listen below:
This article first appeared on CapeTalk : 'Kill the boer' struggle song part of our history and not inciting violence'