The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on Friday said it did not believe that King Goodwill Zwelithini was guilty of promoting violence against migrants on March 15, 2015, during a speech in Pongola, KwaZulu-Natal.
Zwelithini was reported to the commission last year after saying migrants should pack their bags and go back to where they came from. The deadly xenophobic attacks in Kwazulu Natal which left seven people dead was largely blamed on his comments.
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) transcribed the speech given in isiZulu by the king that upset a lot of people and led to over 30 complaints lodged against him at the SAHRC. These complaints were led by the African Diaspora Forum.
Delivering the report, Advocate Lawrance Mushwana said: “Distrust of the responder’s defence was that the utterances on the day in question were misconstrued and taken out of context by the media and that therefore he is not guilty of hate speech as it was alleged at the time.”
The commission is not convinced that Zwelithinis statement that foreigners are a big problem that needs to be dealt with sparked violence.
The commission recommended that Zwelithini continue efforts at reconciling South Africans and migrants in KwaZulu-Natal and that he continue with his own proposed plan to address allegations of xenophobia levelled against him in the media.
King Zwelithini had previously asked the SAHRC to investigate whether the media had misrepresented his speech.
Because this didn’t fall completely within its jurisdiction, the SAHRC said that the king’s misgivings would be referred to relevant parties for investigation, such as the BCCSA, Press Ombudsman and Icasa.