South Africa: Old anti-apartheid song banned on hate speech charges



South Africa:

Old anti-apartheid song banned on hate speech charges

On 26 March 2010, a South African court prohibited the singing of a controversial anti-apartheid song, ‘Ayesab’amagwala’ (‘The cowards are afraid’).

A part of the lyrics translates as ‘kill the boer’, or ‘shoot the boer’, urging to the shooting of white farmers, and the singing of the song has indirectly been linked to the recent murder of a right wing leader in South Africa.

The use of the song was declared unconstitutional and unlawful after an urgent application was brought in the high court in Johannesburg, South Gauteng High Court, reported the news agency AFP and the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

The song has fueled tension and controversy after it was sung in public by a ruling ANC party official, Julius Malema. He has insisted on exercising what he says is his right to sing ‘shoot the boer’ at rallies:

“We are not accepting the decision of the court. (…) The ANC Youth League will still sing the liberation song Ayesab’amagwala, but substitute the lyrics ‘dubul’ibhunu’ (shoot the boer) with something else,” Julius Malema said at a packed press briefing at the ANC’s Luthuli House in Johannesburg on 8 April 2010. He also stated that the Youth League’s singing of the song had nothing to do with the murder of far-right Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging leader Eugene Terre’Blanche.

Hate speech charges
The court ban was a result of an application by a man from the northern province of Mpumalanga against a colleague. But several groups have also moved to act against Julius Malema’s adoption of the song.

The main opposition party Democratic Alliance collected the names of 351 farmers to lodge complaints at the human rights commission, and the minority party Freedom Front Plus also laid two hate speech charges at the Equality Court.

“The human rights commission had already in 2003 determined that the song ‘Kill the boer, kill the farmer’ was hate speech,” said a youth parliamentary spokesman in a statement.

“Despite this decision Julius Malema goes ahead unhindered to propagate hate speech and incite violence against a specific segment of our community.”

Amid rising racial tensions following the murder of white supremacist leader Eugene Terreblanche, South Africa’s ruling African National Congress, ANC, has told its members to refrain from singing the anti-apartheid struggle song. Several political leaders have spoken out against 29-year-old Julius Malema’s singing of the song with some indirectly linking the singing of the song to the right wing leader’s murder.

The lyrics date back to the fight against South Africa’s white minority regime that fell in 1994. Boer is an Afrikaans word for farmer, which has become a derogatory term for all white people in South Africa.

Julius Malema

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BBC News – 7 April 1010:

‘South Africa’s ANC stops singing ‘Shoot the Boer”

Agence France Presse, AFP – 26 March 2010:

‘South African court bans song urging killing of whites’

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