Finding that Zille colonialism tweets were incitement to violence 'far-fetched'

On Tuesday, the Pretoria High Court dismissed with costs the application by former Western Cape Premier Helen Zille to have Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's report on her controversial colonialism tweets reviewed and set aside.

Mkhwebane found that the 2018 tweets, where Zille claimed that the legacy of colonialism is not all bad, was in violation of the executive code of ethics.

John Maytham gets the input of Professor Pierre de Vos, the Claude Leon Foundation chair in Constitutional Governance at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

RELATED: Zille loses court application against Public Protector on colonialism tweets

De Vos agrees that the recent court judgments in hate speech cases can lead to confusion among the general public.

That is why we're waiting for the Constitutional Court, who have heard the arguments in the case. It will be the first case where they will give an authoritative interpretation of the provisions that regulate hate speech, which is the promotion of equality and the prevention of unfair discrimination.

Prof. Pierre de Vos, Claude Leon Foundation chair in Constitutional Governance - UCT

He points out that the Public Protector has wrongly said that hate speech is protected by the Constitution.

The Constitution doesn't regulate or prohibit any speech, it just says some speech is not protected so if you make a law to limit the speech that is not protected, it is not going to be unconstitutional.

Prof. Pierre de Vos, Claude Leon Foundation chair in Constitutional Governance - UCT

The constitutional law expert says he's not sure Zille's tweets constitute hate speech given their context, but has no doubt that they were not an incitement to violence.

What it clearly isn't, is what the Public Protector found - that it was an incitement to violence. That is clearly a bit far-fetched.

Prof. Pierre de Vos, Claude Leon Foundation chair in Constitutional Governance - UCT

For more on this complicated issue, take a listen:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Finding that Zille colonialism tweets were incitement to violence 'far-fetched'


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