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DA reports MEC for hate speech against Jews

  • Maile
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has reported Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Lebogang Maile, to the province’s integrity commissioner for hate speech directed at the Jewish community.
by TALI FEINBERG | Oct 10, 2019

This follows Maile tweeting just before Rosh Hashanah that the mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, was “giving buildings” in the city’s CBD to Jews. He later told the SA Jewish Report that he had nothing to apologise for as he was “stating a fact”.

“If the MEC is aware of any irregularities in terms of the project of revamping inner-city buildings, he must address it as is his mandate instead of playing a political game,” said DA Gauteng Chief Whip Mike Moriarty. “The Jewish community like any other citizens of this country are allowed to bid for any tender in the City of Johannesburg. These irresponsible and horrifying utterances by the MEC in the public space constitute hate speech.

“MEC Maile has violated his oath of office through his offensive and discriminatory utterances that serve to inspire others to commit violence against Jews,” said Moriarty.

Because of this, his party has called on the integrity commissioner in the Gauteng provincial legislature to investigate Maile’s actions and make findings. “Should he be found guilty, Maile must apologise to the Jewish community, retract his tweet, as well as face the consequences of his actions,” he said.

“At the very least, he [Maile] was inciting anger and hatred towards Jewish people,” Moriarty told the SA Jewish Report. “This is the last thing we need at this time in South Africa, when there is so much violence and xenophobia.

“There is a law against hate speech, it’s a crime. In this general climate of hatred, unless you call it out, it’s not going to stop, and will only get worse.”

Moriarty said that the integrity commissioner was established to make elected members of the Gauteng provincial legislature abide by the ethical and moral standards they are bound to by their oaths of office. “If you violate this oath, you lose your eligibility to be a public representative.”

The integrity commissioner is therefore an independent person - in this case Ralph Mgijima - who will investigate, establish the facts, and declare his findings, which can take about three to four months. It’s then up to the legislature to take action against the member. The only way that this decision can be overturned is by going to court.

Moriarty said the DA had chosen not to go to the Human Rights Commission on this matter because in the past it had “behaved in a politicised manner ... and is more likely to protect Maile than uphold the Constitution’s approach to hate speech”. However, this option is still open to the party, and anyone who wants to pursue it.

Moriarty said, “Even if every awardee of a tender [to work in the inner city] was of the Jewish faith, I do not believe for one minute it would have been through a faulty process.”

The SA Jewish Report has seen a list of 22 companies that were recently awarded tenders to work on land and properties in the inner city, and none of their directors are Jewish, proving that Maile is making a sweeping and untrue statement.

The Jewish companies that changed the face of the inner city did so when the situation looked hopeless and others were fleeing the scene. Their work has benefited people in the area.

Justin Blend of Africrest Properties, which has been involved in developing the inner city and its surrounding areas for more than 12 years, says, “Many years ago, inner city residential apartments were mostly slums. Today, people can live in apartments with great security, free gyms, free fibre internet, play grounds, and rooftop soccer courts.

“We have developed more than 400 middle-income apartments, and have another 200 apartments coming on the market in the next nine months in the area. The apartments are priced so that the average earning employee in the city can afford to live in a wonderful environment close to their work.”

The improvement of Johannesburg for the greater good was recognised when the Duchess of Sussex visited Victoria Yards on her recent South African tour. Jonti Brozin, the son of Nando’s co-founder Robbie Brozin, first spotted the potential of this 30 000m² property.

“Once a nappy factory, the property was derelict with chop shops and informal housing,” the younger Brozin told the SA Jewish Report last year. “I heard that this area was going to be turned into low-cost housing, and I was concerned. With the Nando’s head office being across the road, the idea to do something innovative, exciting, and community-based came up.” Enter Brian Green, ‘an honorary Jew’, and the magic started happening, including a long-term plan to clean up the river.

Writing for News24, columnist Howard Feldman said, “The DA is to be commended for calling out this racism. Imagine, just for a moment, if the word ‘Jew’ was substituted with any other group in South Africa, and then imagine further what the reaction of the country would be.

“Whereas I don’t believe that the ANC [African National Congress] is inherently anti-Semitic, there are too many examples that indicate that for some within the party, Jews are a safe target”. Maile didn’t respond to a request for comment. The South African Jewish Board of Deputies chose not to comment at this stage.

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