S.African youth leader defends 'shoot the farmer' song

20th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

The firebrand youth leader of South Africa's ruling party took the witness stand Wednesday to defend himself against hate speech charges over a song with the lyrics "shoot the farmer".

The anti-apartheid struggle song has been at the centre of a politically charged controversy in South Africa, where Julius Malema, the president of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) youth league, is locked in a legal battle with a white lobby group that wants it banned as hate speech.

Malema told the court that the song -- whose Zulu chorus, "Dubula ibhulu", means "shoot the boer", or farmer -- was not his personal anthem but part of ANC heritage and a legacy of the struggle against white-minority rule.

"This is an old song that was sung by leaders before us and we are just continuing with it. This is not my song," he said.

He denied that the lyrics, which he has made his trademark at rallies, targeted white people or were meant to incite violence, saying the word "ibhulu" meant only "oppressor".

"Our struggle has never been directed at white people," he said.

But Afriforum, the lobby group that brought the case, argues that the word -- which is itself derived from the word "boer" in Afrikaans, the language descended from South Africa's Dutch colonisers -- is used to single out whites.

"The word 'boer', in this context, is a derogatory word referring to farmers, whites and to Afrikaners in particular," it said in an affidavit.

The proceedings have captivated South Africa as top ANC leaders and ministers have taken the stand to defend the song as a piece of national history, while lawyers for Afriforum have argued it constitutes hate speech and incites violence against whites.

The hearing began April 11 and is set to run for 10 days.

© 2011 AFP

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