SABC News - Psych SA loses bid to have Qwelane face justice :Wednesday 14 December 2016

Psych SA loses bid to have Qwelane face justice

Wednesday 14 December 2016 20:32

Maageketla Mohlabe

In 2008 Qwelane penned a column containing strong homophobic views.(SABC)

The Psychological Society has lost its Constitutional Court bid to get controversial journalist, Jon Qwelane, to face justice in a hate speech matter without further delay.

The eight-year old case has been repeatedly postponed due to Qwelane's ill-health. It was to be heard in the High Court in Johannesburg in August and September.

In 2008 Qwelane penned a column containing strong homophobic views. Titled "Call me names, but gay is NOT okay", the former Ugandan Ambassador also likened homosexuals to animals.

"He claimed that they were responsible for the rapid degeneration of values in our society plus other ills," says Justice Edwin Cameron.

The Equality Court found Qwelane guilty of hate speech in 2011. He was ordered to pay R100 000 to the Human Rights Commission and to apologise to the LGBTI community.

However, later that year Qwelane successfully applied for the judgement to be rescinded.

After almost a decade of trial postponements, the Psychological Society sought intervention.

"What we were contending before the Constitutional Court was that because of his ill health, the High Court granting a postponement amounted to a silencing of the LGBTI community and leading to them not being able to hold Mr Qwelane accountable," says Psychological Society SA’s attorney, Tshego Phala.

But the ConCourt says it's not in the interest of justice to intervene just yet.

What's pivotal is that the matter has now been set down for trial. The result is that the postponement to which Psych SA objects is no longer indefinite. For this reason, the application for leave to appeal is dismissed," says Justice Cameron.

Qwelane's counsel welcomed the judgement.  "I still stand by my initial feelings that this was a frivolous application that was brought and it was the waste of court's time and a waste of tax payer's money and we are going ahead with the High Court," says Qwelane's attorney, Andrew Boerner.

The matter has been set down for March.

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