The leader of political movement Black First Land First (BLF), Andile Mngxitama, has slammed the case brought against two of its former members by civil rights group Solidarity as an effort to silence black voices.
In 2019, Solidarity opened a complaint of hate speech in terms of the Equality Act against BLF, as well as its then national spokesperson Lindsay Maasdorp and deputy secretary general Zwelakhe Dubasi. This was for comments they made after the death of four white learners when a bridge collapsed at Hoërskool Driehoek in Vanderbijlpark in Gauteng.
In March, the equality court found both Maasdorp and Dubasi’s comments amounted to hate speech and ordered them to submit a written apology to the public through the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), to pay each family of the deceased R50 000 and to carry their legal costs.
This week, the SAHRC released a written apology from Dubasi. In a signed letter dated 28 April 2022, Dubasi wrote: “Upon reflecting on my conduct, I fully take responsibility for the comments made as hate speech and would like to apologise unconditionally to the South African Human Rights Commission. The overall goal of my apology is to restore peace and promote social harmony in the broader society.
“I [acknowledge] the harm done and apologise unconditionally as a right and critical step in making proper amends for the wounds I have inflicted on the families of the deceased children, the human rights commission and the broader society,” he added.
Maasdorp has not submitted a written apology. Neither Dubasi nor Maasdorp has yet paid the families of the deceased R50 000.
Speaking to the Mail & Guardian Mngxitama — who also represented Dubasi and Maasdorp in court — said he was sympathetic towards the former BLF members “because they are punished for expressing views which are shared by a large number of black people”.
“It is part of silencing black voices,” he added.
Neither Mngxitama, nor his deputy Zanele Lwana, were able to provide Maasdorp’s contact details, saying he had since left BLM and they had not been in touch with him for a long time.
Shortly after the tragedy at Hoërskool Driehoek, both Maasdorp and Dubasi responded to a social media post by Siyanda Gumede, which stated: “Don’t have a heart to feel pain for white kids. Minus 3 future problems.”
Maasdorp commented that Gumede was right and that, “God is responding, why should we frown on the ancestors’ petition to punish the land thieves including their offspring.”
Asked to clarify his response to Gumede’s post, Maasdorp told The Citizen, “If our God has finally intervened and our ancestors have petitioned and seen that these white land thieves have now died then I definitely celebrate it. I celebrate the death of our enemies, their children, their cats and their dogs. That is our position.”
Maasdorp’s comments were widely shared and published in the media.
Also responding to Gumede’s post, Dubasi said the ancestors were with BLF and “as we fight they fight too. They shake the land, and white buildings built on stolen land collapse.”
Solidarity will be back in court on 18 October, according to its legal head Anton van der Bijl, who told the M&G that should Maasdorp decide not to comply with the court order, the group would lay a complaint of contempt of court against him.