In the High Court in Johannesburg on Monday, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema’s defence, Vuyani Ngalwana, suggests journalist Karima Brown may have an agenda against the EFF.
The EFF is in court for a screenshot posted by Malema which apparently sparked an avalanche of abuse against Brown. Ngalwana began his defence of Malema by quoting a message from Brown to the Independent Electoral Commission.
He referred to the message where Brown stated that she “wants to end the EFF” and said this was the journalist the court was dealing with. “One who is intent on having a political party de-registered,” and this was the context upon which the EFF viewed the tweet.
He argued that Brown had not conducted herself in a manner that was fair, objective, or professional and went through several examples where Brown accused the EFF of race-baiting and tabled an article where she asked why the EFF was allowed to contest in the elections.
Right before the court went into short recess for lunch, Ngalwana maintained the matter was not as urgent as indicated by Brown’s defence.
Earlier, the court heard from Brown’s defence, Geoff Budlender, that Malema had a responsibility to condemn the actions of his supporters.
He said both Malema and the EFF had failed to prove their allegations that Brown was a mole or an ANC operative as stated in the tweet.
He argued that Malema made no attempt to curb the abuse against Brown, and by the time of his apology at an EFF briefing, the damage had already been done.
Ngalwana, however, argued that there was no direct link between Malema’s tweet and the avalanche of hate messages received by Brown.
“There is no reasonable evidence, link [between Malema’s tweet] and those messages that were sent to Ms Brown. It’s sheer conjecture to say there was a message and there was an avalanche of messages,” he said.
“There remains no comparison of what messages had been sent to Ms Brown on Twitter before Malema’s tweet.”
He argued that a link had to be established between the publication of the message, showing Brown’s cellphone number, and the abusive messages that she received from people who called themselves EFF supporters.
“One can’t jump to the conclusion that because you tweeted this, then the abuse was a result.”