DA dragged to court over new slur
The DA has been dragged to the Equality Court on a fresh case after its Eastern Cape councillor, who called a black councillor a “baboon”, was given a punishment considered a slap on the wrist.
The DA’s federal executive ruled that its councillor Chris Roberts would have to pay a R10 000 fine and be demoted as party whip – but would remain in his position as councillor.
United Democratic Movement councillor Mongameli Bobani told City Press his party had laid charges of hate speech against the DA at the Equality Court after he was called a baboon by Chris Roberts last year.
This controversy adds to a tumultuous two weeks in which the party has had to fend off several critical media reports.
The party held a mass march in Johannesburg on Tuesday against the lack of jobs in the country, but it was eclipsed by claims by the ruling party that the DA paid marchers R100 each to attend. The march is estimated to have been about 20 000 strong.
On Friday the Mail & Guardian reported that DA head Mmusi Maimane had been taking “leadership classes” from former president FW de Klerk. The DA denied this, saying the claim was damaging.
Bobani said: “As an older black man, being called a baboon brought back the pain of apartheid, and it was humiliating and painful for me.
“Neither Roberts nor the DA have had the decency to issue any kind of personal apology to me in writing or otherwise, even after the party found him guilty.”
The DA’s federal executive ruled that Roberts would have to pay a R10 000 fine and be demoted as party whip, but would remain in his position as councillor. Do you think the
DA is serious about stamping
out racism? SMS us on 35697 using the keyword DA and tell us what you think. Please include your name. SMSes cost R1.50 Bobani feels the sanctions indicate that the DA is not serious about stamping out racism.
The punishment comes just weeks after party leader Maimane vowed to take a bolder stance against incidents of racism in the party, which has continued to battle allegations and cases of racism. “No DA member must ever turn a blind eye to racism, no matter how subtle or coded. We need to call people out on their behaviour, even when confronting them makes us feel uncomfortable.
“We have a duty to stand up and speak out for our values.
“I will not tolerate racism in the party I lead,” Maimane said just two weeks ago in an address on the topic of race.
When asked if the sanctions meted out against Roberts were adequate, Maimane referred City Press to Eastern Cape leader Athol Trollip.
“But you must understand that the case was heard and concluded before Mr Maimane’s speech on race,” said Trollip.
“So what he said on race cannot be retrospective. It certainly is applicable to the party and its voters and potential voters, and current and future public representatives from that Tuesday when he made it.”
Trollip added that the party had not received any notifications from the Equality Court, but Bobani told City Press papers were sent to the DA last week.
Bobani said they were confident of a win, given that the offending comment was recorded, the speaker found Roberts guilty and that a recommendation would be made to the MEC for local government elections that Roberts be removed as councillor.
Last week City Press reported ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe had filed papers at the Equality Court following the DA’s sanctions against its MP Dianne Kohler Barnard for sharing a social-media post that praised late apartheid leader PW Botha.