The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has confirmed that it has successfully submitted court papers opposing Jon Qwelane’s attempt to reverse the hate speech verdict against him.
In a statement, the SAHRC said that it had lodged opposing papers with the Johannesburg Equality Court in response to Qwelane’s request for the court to rescind the judgment.
There had been concerns that the SAHRC had not submitted the papers within the court’s deadline to do so. Last week Qwelane’s lawyers said that they had refused the SAHRC’s request to extend the submission deadline, which was last Friday.
“There was a small delay,” admitted spokesperson Vincent Moaga on Wednesday, explaining that the papers had been submitted to Qwelane’s legal representatives on Friday and the court on Monday.
He also told Mambaonline that while the papers were submitted a few days late the court had accepted them.
Moaga revealed that the SAHRC argues in the papers that “we are of the view that Qwelane was in wilful default of the proceedings”.
He added: “Qwelane deliberately ignored the court and has no basis to ask the court to rescind the initial judgement.”
Qwelane’s lawyers believe that the ruling should be rescinded on the basis that he assumed the case wouldn’t proceed without him because he was out of the country and didn’t have an opportunity to defend himself.
The application for rescission of the default judgment filed by Qwelane will be heard on 21 July.
Qwelane, a journalist who is now South Africa’s ambassador in Uganda, was sued by the SAHRC over his 2008 anti-gay article Call me names, but gay is NOT okay…, published in the Sunday Sun.
He failed to defend himself and, in May, was found guilty of hate speech, ordered to apologise and fined R 100,000.
In the controversial 2008 article, Qwelane was blatant in his dismissal of the SAHRC, saying that he would neither “withdraw or apologise for my views” nor “write letters to the commission… explaining my thoughts.”
If Qwelane succeeds in rescinding the ruling, the SAHRC would have to re-file the suit against him and pursue the matter from the beginning.