Lawsuit over K-word

A Grahamstown woman who admits to using the “K-word” during a parking spat with a black man has said she was provoked first when he allegedly swore and called her a “white boer”.

The 2012 verbal altercation outside Sazi Matama’s house allegedly left him traumatised and he is suing Muriel Els for R100000 for hate speech in the equality court.

Els hit back and instituted her own claim for R100000 saying she was provoked and stressed when she used the “K-word”.

Although she claims she only used the word after Matama allegedly called her a “f***ing white boer”, he has vehemently denied the allegation.

After hearing evidence from both parties, Grahamstown magistrate Sean Murphy recently took the unusual step of requesting their attorneys file heads of argument before returning to court to make final oral arguments.

Legal Resource Centre attorney Mandira Subramony, who is representing Matama, yesterday told the Daily Dispatch the court would have to first decide whether the term “white boer” was hate speech and then rule whether using it could be reasonably construed to be hurtful, harmful or to promote hatred.

While there have been many previous court cases over the years that have concluded the “K-word” is offensive and amounts to hate speech, there has been no precedent setting judgments when it comes to using “white boer”.

According to papers before the court, Matama claims Els was working for a garden service and parked in front of his driveway – completely blocking his car in – while her team mowed a neighbour’s lawn.

He claims an argument ensued when he reversed his car out and Els started hooting at him.

He says when he went to find out what all the commotion was about she called him a “f*****g k****r” and also swore at his mother.

Matama says Els then tried to ride him over with her bakkie, resulting in him twisting both his ankles.

He denied claims by Els that she only called him the “K-word” after she was called a “f*****g white boer”.

In his founding affidavit, Matama contends that the use of the “K-word” is a violation of his human dignity and amounts to hate speech and is claiming an unconditional written apology, as well as compensation to the sum of R100000 in damages.

Els laid a similar claim against Matama and is also seeking an award of R100000.

In her responding affidavit, Els, who is employed at Dupliprint, said Matama initiated the confrontation by swearing at her and calling her a “white boer”.

She said the comment, which Matama has denied making, “was meant to violate my dignity, to be harmful and to promote hatred”.

“I admit that I responded in kind by calling him a ‘k***r’,” she said in her affidavit.

Els however said she “merely responded to his (Matama’s) racial insults and aggression” and that she apologised to him later the same day.

She said in papers that she was upset and stressed that her sister had been admitted to hospital the day before the incident.

According to Subramony, Murphy would get both parties to return to court to make final oral submissions after they have filed their heads of argument.

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