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ANC youth leader guilty of 'hate speech' after rape jibe

Alex Duval Smith

Published 16/03/2010 | 10:48

A CONTROVERSIAL South African youth leader has been convicted of "hate speech" for claiming that a woman who four years ago accused the future President, Jacob Zuma, of rape had "a nice time".

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The African National Congress Youth League said it would appeal against the Johannesburg Equality Court's order for Julius Malema, 29, to make an unconditional apology and pay R50,000 (£4,500) to a centre for abused women.

Mr Malema made the comment to a rally during Mr Zuma's campaign for the presidency last year. Mr Zuma was cleared in the rape case and the woman who accused him was granted political asylum in the Netherlands.

In her judgment, the magistrate Colleen Collins said Mr Malema, who did not attend yesterday's hearing, had admitted saying: "When a woman didn't enjoy it, she leaves early in the morning. Those who had a nice time will wait until the sun comes out, request breakfast and ask for taxi money."

She said Mr Malema, as an influential figure, should have been mindful of the impact of his utterances. She said his statement was "irresponsible", "superfluous" and "demeaning to women", and the references to breakfast and taxi money were inaccurate.

Mbuyiselo Botha, a spokesperson for the Sonke Gender Justice group that took Mr Malema to court, said: "Instead of perpetuating rape myths, public figures should make it clear that rape can happen anywhere ... We need to make sure that women who have been raped are not stigmatised and are not made to feel like the crimes against them were their fault."

Mr Malema, the son of a domestic worker from Limpopo province, enjoys President Zuma's support for having rallied millions of young voters last year.

His calls for the nationalisation of mines and the redistribution of white-owned land often seem timed to pacify the frustrated left wing of South Africa's governing alliance. Of the mining magnate Nicky Oppenheimer, Mr Malema said last year: "We don't respect him. Ours is to take from his family what belongs to the people of South Africa."

He has labelled the Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille a "racist", a "colonialist" and a "Satanist". He has referred to the Communist Party official Jeremy Cronin as a "white messiah" and accused the Technology Minister, Naledi Pandor, of using a "fake accent" because of her English intonation.

But Mr Malema's star may be waning. Sunday newspapers have made claims about his lavish lifestyle as well as allegations that he is a tax dodger. The media have also alleged he is a "tenderpreneur" with interests in companies that won more than 20 government and provincial contracts in 2008. Mr Malema has fiercely denied the claims, labelling them "lies and misrepresentations".

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