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Judge, advocate in heated exchange over Zille tweets

Publish date: 09 September 2019
Issue Number: 840
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: South Africa

Former Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s legal battle to overturn Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report on her controversial colonialism tweets has been defined by marathon heated arguments between her advocate and the judge deciding the case – who has repeatedly highlighted the pain, hurt and offence the tweets caused, notes a report in The Herald. Zille is seeking Mkhwebane's report on her tweets to be reviewed and set aside, on the basis that it is irrational and unlawful. Mkhwebane’s report followed a complaint by an ANC member of the Western Cape provincial legislature, Khayalethu Magaxa. Acting Judge Malebo Habedi read out some of the responses Zille had received to her 2017 tweets, which followed her return from a trip to Singapore, and used them to question the impact the tweets had caused. In one of the tweets, Zille stated that ‘for those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water etc.’ In response to Advocate Sean Rosenberg’s argument that the tweets had promoted a healthy and lively debate about the legacy of colonialism, Habedi referred to a tweeted response that stated ‘SA would be better off if all (Zille’s) people left and we dragged forward Africa instead of engaging colonialism’s heritage’. ‘Do you think that’s healthy?’ Habedi asked Rosenberg.

Full report in The Herald (subscription needed)