South African Ambassador to Uganda Jon Qwelane Hate Speech Trial Goes to High Court

By Melanie Nathan, August 30, 2012.

Jon Qwelane,  the homophobic journalist who was appointed by President Jacob Zuma as the South African Ambassador to Uganda in exchange for political favors,  and to escape prosecution for hate speech, successfully pleaded that the Equality Court in the Johannesburg Magistrates’ Court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the matter involving homophobic remarks he had made. The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) had approached the court following an uproar from the LGBTI community over anti-gay remarks Qwelane had made in his newspaper column.

The Equality Court in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court found Qwelane guilty of hate speech in May last year. It ordered him to make an unconditional apology to the LBTI  community and also pay R100000 in damages. Qwelane, who was not in court when judgment was handed down, challenged the decision. He lodged an application for the rescission of the default judgment. The court ruled in his favor on a technicality. Now it will be heard in the High Court, perhaps as early as next week.

On Monday, after deliberations between SAHRC representatives and Qwelane’s lawyers, it was agreed that the matter would be transferred to the High Court.

Just today the ANC, Zuma’s party, condemned homophobia in no uncertain terms at an historic public meeting held with NPO, The Gay Flag of South Africa.

Ironically, President Zuma continues to surreptitiously protect Qwelane through this appointment, helping Qwelane stay out of South Africa as legitimate Ambassador to Uganda, while one of the infamous comments made by Qwelane  is particulalry haunting in today’s context of violence against the LGBTI community in South Africa: “Some day a bunch of politicians will muster the balls to rewrite the Constitution.”

Indeed the Traditionalists under MP Holomisa and via CONTRALESCA are now reviewing SA’s fully inclusive Constitution, which was vehemently condemned by Zuma’s own party, the ANC at the meeting today.

Qwelane’s newspaper published an apology while Qwelane has remained in Uganda, failing to make any appearances in court since the start of the action against him.

Qwelane has never apologized and defiantly asserts that he has done no wrong.


6 thoughts on “South African Ambassador to Uganda Jon Qwelane Hate Speech Trial Goes to High Court

  1. I am disgusted that a man like Qwelane is SA’s ambassador to Uganda. SA should be showing stronger leadership on LGBTI issues in Uganda especially because of its all inclusive constitution which protects LGBTI people in SA. This appointment is hypocritical and unacceptable and Qwelane should be returned to JHB to face the music!

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