South African Jews sue politician over Holocaust tweets

South African Jews sue politician over Holocaust tweets

Board of Deputies want Andile Mngxitama to apologize for praising 'lampshades and Jewish soap' and attend genocide education program

Black First Land First (BLF) leader Andile Mngxitama, July 2017. (Screen capture: YouTube)
Black First Land First (BLF) leader Andile Mngxitama, July 2017. (Screen capture: YouTube)

The South African Jewish community sued a politician on Monday for tweets he posted denigrating the Holocaust and mocking its victims.

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies launched a case in the Equality Court against Andile Mngxitama who last month praised the Nazis for allegedly making lampshades and soap from remains of Jews they had murdered, the South African Times reported on Tuesday.

“For those claiming the legacy of the holocaust is ONLY negative think about the lampshades and Jewish soap,” he tweeted.

Mngxitama, who founded and heads the far-left Black First Land First (BLF) party, which does not hold any seats in the parliament, followed that with another anti-Semitic tweet.

“I concure with @helenzille that the aroma of the burning flesh from the furnace of the holocaust may wet[sic] the appetite of the S.A. cannibals,” he wrote.

The Board of Deputies, which represents most of the country’s Jewish institutions, condemned the tweets, “It is deeply distressing that anyone could so casually and publicly dehumanize an entire people in this way. How much more outrageous it is when emanating from a public figure who heads up a political voice,” it said in a statement.

The following day, seemingly in response to the Board of Deputies, Mngxitama attacked Zionists on Twitter.

“I see Zionists and their lackeys are in a state. its easy and its about land. Black land here and Palestinian land in occupied Palestine,” he wrote.

The Board of Deputies claimed that Mngxitama had violated the Equality Act which bans hate speech.

“Mr Mngxitama has engaged in conduct that amounts to hate speech against the South African Jewish community‚ and Jewish people in general‚” Board of Deputies National Director Wendy Kahn told the court.

“Such comments create an environment within which racist and hateful attitudes are allowed to flourish and a hostile and intimidating environment is created for persons at whom the racist commentary is directed‚” she said.

Kahn’s affidavit added, “As a result of Mr Mngxitama’s posts, his Twitter forum – he has approximately 75,000 followers on his Twitter account – itself has also become a platform and a discussion area for further antisemitic hate speech and the advocacy of hatred on the basis of religion and/or ethnicity.”

She asked the judge to force him to apologize and take part in an education program at Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre. If he fails to do both of those, the Board of Deputies asked that he be fined 150,000 Rand ($11,500), which it would donate to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.

Khan said the education program would teach Mngxitama the impact his words could make.

“Mr Mngxitama would learn that the Rwandan genocide did not just happen,” she said. “It as fermented‚ inter alia‚ by radio reference to the targeted group as ‘cockroaches’….He would learn that his kind of utterances‚ apart from causing a violation of members of the targeted group’s dignity and harm to them psychologically‚ it also has the serious potential to physically cause harm to the target group.”

Mngxitama did not appear repentant after the lawsuit was filed, claiming it was he who was the victim of racism.

“I will meet the racist Jewish Board of Deputies at the equality court. See the power of whiteness? The victim turned into the perpetrator,” he tweeted.

He added that, “The Zionist morons now arrogate unto themselves the roles of teachers of suffering? Will start their education with the black holocaust.”

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