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Top ANC leader defends South African ‘hate song’

A top leader in South Africa’s ruling party on Tuesday defended the singing of an anti-apartheid song that some whites say promotes racial divisions, in a high-profile hate speech trial.

The song contains the lyrics “kill the boer”, referring to descendants of early Dutch colonisers known as Afrikaners.

Afriforum, a rights group that styles itself as the voice of Afrikaners, has filed a case in the Equality Court to stop the ruling African National Congress (ANC) youth leader Julius Malema from singing the song.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said as he took the stand that the song needed to be protected as it was part of heritage of the liberation movement.

“It’s about protecting a history and heritage,” he said.

Malema has been singing the song at ANC rallies, which Afriforum says incites hate and violence against Afrikaners.

Afriforum blames the song for a spate of murders of Afrikaner farmers across the country, including the killing of white supremacist leader Eugene Terre’Blanche last year.

Since the trial began on April 11, ANC leaders have defended the song, saying there was no proof that the song had incited murders in a country grappling with one of the highest murder rates in the world.

An average of 46 people meet a violent death every day in South Africa, most of them blacks living in poor urban areas.

The song was popular in the early 1990s, sung at political gatherings and funerals of anti-apartheid activists.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, ex-wife of former president Nelson Mandela, has been at Malema’s side since the beginning of the trial, which is set down for 10 days.