ACM’s contempt of court application 'laughable' - ANCYL KZN
Durban – African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) provincial secretary in KwaZulu-Natal, Thanduxolo Sabelo, described as "laughable" the contempt of court charge laid against the league by the Active Citizens Movement (ACM).
The charge relates to disruptions at an April memorial service for ANC stalwart Ahmed Kathrada in Durban.
ACM, who were the organisers of the event, filed papers in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban on Monday – asking a judge to rule that Sabelo personally pay R50 000, and the league R100 000, to a charitable organisation.
Sabelo told News24 on Tuesday that they had received court papers from ACM and they were “unworriedly” going to defend the case.
Speaking about himself in the third person, Sabelo said: "This is laughable because they want the provincial secretary of the league to pay an amount or spend 90 days in jail. They’ve not even tried to detach the secretary from the incident, meaning that he acted on his own."
Sabelo distanced himself from the chaos that took place during the memorial service, adding that there was proof of him on national media trying to calm the situation at the event.
"This is a political case and the ACM is trying to silence the ANCYL in KZN and the provincial secretary. We’re not going to back down and be silenced by those looting from the state," he said.
Sabelo also highlighted the timing of ACM’s case against the ANCYL.
"They know that we’re going to come out guns blazing following the recent reports about the R4.3bn that was looted by the Treasury department under former minister Pravin Gordhan," he said, adding that the league was going to be more vocal ahead of the 2019 national elections.
He said instead of focusing too much on ACM’s case, "we have a job to economically liberate the youth of this country."
"We are not going to concentrate on the Active Citizens Movement trying to launch itself as a political party using the ANCYL's name," added Sabelo.
The ACM also wants the court to order that the youth league place a paid-for advert apologising for their behaviour in four newspapers, including the isiZulu-language publication, Isolezwe.
It has supplied a transcript of the proposed apology, which includes an undertaking to ensure that similar "unfortunate and disrespectful" conduct will never be repeated.
If the order is granted, non-compliance will mean that Sabelo can be imprisoned for 90 days and that the ACM can attach league assets - to the value of R100 000 - for sale at auction.
The ACM turned back to the court after the ANCYL ignored a demand, issued shortly after the memorial, to apologise through newspaper advertisements.
ANCYL KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Mandla Shange had told News24 after the April memorial that the league would not apologise because its members had done nothing wrong during the service.
"Apologising would mean we're admitting that we are guilty. We are waiting for them [ACM] to get back to us so we can meet and come up with an amicable solution," said Shange.
The days before the memorial, which was open to the public, the ACM sought an urgent interdict barring ANCYL members from attending, saying there were fears for the safety of keynote speaker, axed finance minister Pravin Gordhan.
After promises from the youth league leadership that they would behave, KwaZulu-Natal High Court Judge Rashid Vahed ruled that they could attend, but granted an order interdicting any "assaults, intimidation or harassment and any attempt to remove any of the speakers".
During the actual memorial, ACM executive chairperson Benedictor Madokwe in his affidavit in the pending contempt application said several speakers, including Gordhan, were heckled, "drowned out", and could not complete their speeches.
Makodwe said it was important for the contempt order to be granted "to ensure that the rule of law is observed and court orders are treated as sacrosanct".
"The order envisages a monetary compensation order… at the heart of this application is the request for a proper apology," he said.
The ANCYL have this week in which to note an intention to oppose and 15 days to file affidavits.
In previous media reports, Sabelo denied contravening the interdict and said he had acted according to its conditions.
The matter has been set down for August 14.