The Black First Land First (BLF) party says it will not apologise for its controversial slogan ‘Land or Death’ after the Equality Court, sitting in Johannesburg, found it constituted hate speech. The court gave BLF one month to remove the slogan from its regalia, social media accounts and its website.

The order was made in an application brought by the Human Rights Commission. The party was also ordered to tender a written apology to all South Africans within the same time period, which should be published on the commission’s website.

However, the BLF remains as defiant as ever. ‘We are not going to do any of that,’ its deputy president Zanele Lwana is quoted as saying in a News24 report. ‘We are not going to apologise for having Land or Death as a slogan. We are not going to remove Land or Death from any of our platforms or T-shirts. We are going to take this matter on appeal. We believe we are protected within the confines of the Constitution in terms of freedom of expression and association. We believe a different court will get to a different judgment.’

According to a report in The Citizen, party spokesperson Lindsay Maasdorp said: ‘This ruling is nonsensical and shows the backwardness of the Magistrate’s Courts. The Constitutional Court has ruled on what hate speech is. The magistrate erred in finding our slogan hate speech. Strange enough, the court found ‘one settler one bullet’ to be historical and therefore not hate speech.’

Maasdorp added: ‘The court ruling is an overall victory for BLF because the application failed to stop BLF from being de-registered with the Independent Electoral Commission and thereby being stopped to participate in the elections. Land thieves failed to stop BLF from being in the elections. This is victory!'

Full report in The Citizen

BLF leader Andile Mngxitama said the party would appeal because there was legal precedence, citing the Human Rights Commission finding absolving EFF leader Julius Malema of hate speech, notes a TimesLIVE report. The commission found that Malema's comments that the EFF was ‘not calling for the slaughter of white people, at least not for now’ did not amount to hate speech.

‘Then there was the Constitutional Court which said the song 'umama uyajabula mangishaya amabhunu' is protected, and that is the highest court in the land. So we are not worried at all. ‘We will appeal and win because this is a clear bias against BLF because we are the only genuine voice of black people. That ruling that our slogan is hate speech is a nonsensical ruling. We are not going to apologise within 30 days as instructed by the court, but we will instead appeal,’ he said.

According to Mngxitama, the finding against his party was part of an agenda to stand in their way and prevent them getting into Parliament as they contest the general elections tomorrow. Mngxitama said that as long as BLF remained on the ballot ‘it is victory for me because the real mission of all the racist complaints against us was to see us blocked from participating in these elections’.

Full TimesLIVE report