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Solidarity and Another v Black First Land First and Others (163/2020) [2021] ZASCA 26

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Solidarity and Another v Black First Land First and Others (163/2020) [2021] ZASCA 26

26th March 2021

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[1]             On the morning of 1 February 2019 a walkway bridge collapsed at Hoërskool Driehoek, in Vanderbijlpark, tragically causing the death of four learners, aged between 13 and 17 years old. Twenty other learners were injured. All were white.

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[2]             On the same day, and once the incident became public, a certain Siyanda Gumede posted the following on his facebook page: ‘Don’t have heart to feel pain for white kids. Minus 3 future problems’.

Black First Land First (BLF), a registered political party[1] at the time, and the first respondent, commented on this post. Lindsay Maasdorp, the second respondent and the national spokesperson of the BLF, immediately responded to Gumede’s statement on the official BLF twitter account as follows: ‘Siyanda Gumede is correct! God is responding, why should we frown on the ancestors petitions to punish the land thieves including their offspring’. Zwelakhe Dubasi was the deputy secretary general of the BLF and is the third respondent. He also commented on

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Siyanda Gumede’s post on the official BLF twitter account stating:

‘Ancestors are with BLF, as we fight they fight too. They shake the land and white buildings built on stolen land collapse. Keep fighting Zinyanya, you are fighting a good fight. Camugu!’.

[3]             These comments caused widespread outrage on various media platforms. When approached for clarification by The Citizen newspaper, Mr Maasdorp responded that he was ‘not certain’ whether the victims were white and he would mourn them if they were black. He added: ‘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 dogs. That is our position’.    

[4]             This led to Solidarity, a registered trade union of predominantly white members, launching an application in terms of s 20 of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000 (the Equality Act). Solidarity claimed to act in its own interests, on behalf of bereaved family members and in the public interest. It sought an order declaring that the comments constituted hate speech, as defined by ss 7, 10 and 11 of the Equality Act and were an affront to human dignity and white people in general. Further ancillary relief was sought, including the payment of damages to the families of the children.   

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