- Julius Malema has taken Patriotic Alliance deputy president Kenny Kunene to court 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 sitting in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg.
EFF leader Julius Malema wants Kenny Kunene’s comments labelling him a “cockroach” to be considered in the context of the Rwandan genocide.
Malema has dragged Kunene, the Patriotic Alliance’s (PA) deputy president, to the Equality Court after the high-profile businessman failed to apologise for calling him a “cockroach” during a television interview last year.
eNCA interviewed Kunene at the time of the local government elections last year to discuss coalitions after the PA emerged as kingmakers in several municipalities, News24 previously reported.
He also said he would “deal” with Malema and threatened to expose him.
Malema is now demanding that Kunene issue an unconditional public apology and retract the statement.
On Monday, Malema’s lawyer, advocate Kameel Premhid, told the court the term cockroach “enjoys the particular sting that it does because of its links to the Rwandan genocide”.
“The word cockroach means something, and that something is offensive.”
Premhid said the court should “play a role in making a legal determination as to what the reasonable listener who heard the words being uttered will attach what meaning to it”.
He added the Constitutional Court, the highest court in the land, already said words were not neutral.
Premhid said when his client called another person a cockroach, he followed that up with a withdrawal and an apology.
“And why was that? Your lordship must ask himself, why was that? It’s not because the word cockroach suddenly took a special meaning in South Africa.
“It’s not because we had a … genocidal incident in South Africa as a result of the word cockroach being used.
“It was a recognition that the word cockroach in and of itself is so offensive because of how it is utilised in fraught political situations.”
Kunene had previously said a “cockroach has been an irritant my entire childhood. Everyone who irritates him, I refer to him as an irritant”.
“He calls us bandits, criminals, and that is defamatory. I don’t run to courts because I am not a cry baby and a sissy boy. This is politics.”
On Monday, courtroom 8D in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg – where the Equality Court is sitting – was packed to capacity with PA supporters clad in party regalia.
Kunene was also in attendance.
Only two members of the EFF attended proceedings, and then only for a few minutes.
The case continues.