EFF leader Julius Malema
PHOTO: Isabel Venter, Netwerk24
- Julius Malema has sued the Vice President of the Patriotic Alliance, Kenny Kunene, for calling him a cockroach.
- Kunene had called him that during a television interview and had previously said he would not apologise.
- The case is being heard in the Equality Court, which sits at the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg.
EFF leader Julius Malema wants Kenny Kunene’s comments calling him a “cockroach” to be considered in the context of the Rwandan genocide.
Malema has taken Kunene, the vice president of the Patriotic Alliance (PA), to court for equal treatment after the well-known businessman failed to apologize during a televised interview last year for calling him a “cockroach”.
eNCA interviewed Kunene during the local government elections last year to discuss coalitions after the PA emerged as kingmakers in several municipalities, TBEN previously reported.
He also said he would “handle” Malema and threatened to expose him.
Malema now demands that Kunene issue an unconditional public apology and withdraw the statement.
On Monday, Malema’s attorney, attorney Kameel Premhid, told the court that the term cockroach “enjoys the special incentive it does because of its ties to the Rwandan genocide”.
“The word cockroach means something, and that something is offensive.”
Premhid said the court should “play a part in making a legal decision about what the reasonable listener who has heard the words uttered, what meaning will attach to them”.
He added that the Constitutional Court, the highest court in the country, already said words were not neutral.
READ | Kenny Kunene ‘not apologetic’ after Julius Malema approaches equality court over cockroach comment
Premhi said that when his client called another person a cockroach, he followed up with a retraction and an apology.
‘And why was that? Your Honor must be wondering, why was that? It’s not because the word cockroach suddenly took on a special meaning in South Africa.
“It’s not because we had a… genocidal incident in South Africa as a result of using the word cockroach.
“It was an admission that the word cockroach in itself is so offensive because of the way it is used in fraught political situations.”
Kunene had previously said that a cockroach has been an irritant all my childhood. Anyone who annoys him, I call him irritating.
“He calls us bandits, criminals, and that’s defamatory. I’m not going to court because I’m neither a crybaby nor a sissy. This is politics.”
On Monday, courtroom 8D in Johannesburg’s Gauteng High Court – home to the Equality Court – was packed with PA supporters dressed in festive attire.
Kunene was also present.
Only two members of the EFF attended the proceedings, and then only for a few minutes.
The case continues.