The EFF’s legal team has failed to convince the Pretoria High Court that the issuing of threats against the Gupta family were just “political campaigning” and not an incitement to violence.
The Gupta brothers rushed to court yesterday to apply for an order against talk of violence against the company’s shareholders, staff and property.
During yesterday’s proceedings, the EFF’s advocate, Ishmael Semenya, argued that there was no evidence of threats except for utterances by EFF leader Julius Malema at a press conference last week, which Semenya said was “part of election campaigning”.
He said talk of driving the Guptas out the country “was fair comment in a political landscape”, arguing this was a valid campaign speech.
Semenya said there was no proof these threats of violence would actually be carried out, but advocate Nic Maritz, acting for the Guptas, pointed the court to a live news report showing EFF members shouting “Shoot Zuma, shoot the Guptas” outside the Constitutional Court yesterday.
“There is a reasonable apprehension that it will happen … the incitement is ongoing,” he said.
The family approached the court on an urgent basis following Malema’s comments that journalists working for the Gupta’s ANN7 and The New Age would not be welcome to cover party events.
At the same event Malema called for the Guptas to be driven out of Gauteng and South Africa.
Nazeem Howa, CEO of Oakbay Investments, and 12 others, including Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Kumar Gupta – stated in court papers that some of their business executives had received threatening phone calls on Monday, some made between 2.30am and 3.50am.
Pretoria High Court Judge Johan Louw granted the order barring Malema and his party from inciting violence against the politically connected family.
An unrepentant Malema said the order would not stop him or his party from criticising the family.
“We must respect the courts. But the courts can’t stop us from saying that we don’t love the Guptas. We don’t want their curry,” he said.
Atul Gupta said the family employed 4500 citizens and reinvested all its profits in the country.
Moegsien Williams, editor-in-chief of The New Age newspaper, said: “Our employees have the right to go to work and do their jobs without the threat of violence. We welcome today’s ruling.”