A South African court ruled Monday that a controversial anti-apartheid struggle song with the lyrics “shoot the farmer” is an incitement to murder.
The song has been at the centre of a politically-charged debate in South Africa, with white Afrikaner groups condemning it as hate speech and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) arguing it is a legacy of the struggle against white-minority rule.
Judge Leon Halgryn took a firm stand against the song Monday in Johannesburg high court, ruling that publishing or singing the lyrics “dubula ibhunu” (“shoot the farmer” in Zulu) “prima facie satisfies the crime of incitement to murder”.
Halgryn denied the ANC permission to appeal an earlier ruling that the song was illegal and unconstitutional.
His decision came two days before South Africa holds local elections and three days before final arguments in a separate court case on whether the song constitutes hate speech.
The latter case pits the firebrand leader of the ANC’s youth league, Julius Malema, against Afriforum, a lobby group focused on white Afrikaner issues.
It drew national attention last month when the alternately revered and reviled Malema, who has made the song his trademark, sparred with Afriforum’s lawyers from the witness box in standoffs that were broadcast live on TV.
Final arguments in the case are set down for Thursday and Friday.