Dear SAUJS members
Yesterday a judgement was made in the Equality Court of the South Gauteng High Court which has tremendous significance for all SAUJS members. In a damning judgement, an anti-Israel activist has been found guilty of hate speech.
Over 8 years ago, in March 2009, COSATU member Bongani Masuku threatened SAUJS students in a lecture theatre at Wits University during ‘Israel Apartheid Week’. The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) lodged a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission (HRC), and later that year the HRC issued a finding of hate speech and ordered him to apologise. Mr. Masuku refused to apologise.
The HRC took him to the Equality Court in the South Gauteng High Court and the case was heard at the beginning of the year, in February, during a 7-day trial. Several witnesses were called including Benji Shulman, a SAUJS leader at the time, who was present during the whole hate-filled experience. David Hirsh (from the UK) shared expertise about anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, and Professor Gregory Stanton (from the US) testified as an expert on Genocide.
The judgement was unequivocal and damning. Judge Moshidi ruled yesterday that Mr. Masuku’s statements in 2009 constituted hate speech and he was not swayed by the arguments of freedom of speech. Masuku’s recurrent protestations that he was making the statements about Zionists and not Jews was also dismissed, which has tremendous significance.
Bongani Masuku was among the first of the venomous anti-Israel activists to enter the campus domain and to spew hate against Jewish students. Unfortunately, as we know, this trend has continued and escalated, not just in SA but also globally. We believe therefore that this is a particularly significant ruling, and an excellent example of standing up to hatred.
For your interest, the SAJBD press release can be found here: http://www.sajbd.org/index.php/media/equality-court-finds-hate-speech-by-cosatu-spokesperson