I listened to Derek Hanekom, giving evidence in the Malema hate speech trial, and cringed ... cringed quite frequently. It really does demean us as human beings when a man of obvious stature and intellect chooses "convenient" intellectualism to defend that which is clearly indefensible. It is tragic that, having succeeded in defeating one evil, he chooses to promote another - that of division and race based antipathy, even hatred. Hanekon should be providing leadership on building a nation, not in perpetuating a very, very bad past.
I also sorely missed my days as an advocate. I would have shot this man down, dug his grave and buried him in no time at all.
Just for starters, in terms of his own stance, he would have to admit that the central phrase "shoot the Boer" was a statement of hate - against the evil apartheid system. So the fact that it is a statement of hate is a given, whichever side you are on.
The other dreadful/fatal flaw in his case is that he is forced to make his interpretation dependent on being "in context", so as to avoid the ordinary meaning of the words. That context was the apartheid era - which no longer exists. You cannot allow a person to unilaterally and inwardly apply a meaning to words, that are not apparent to an ordinary reasonable human being, by dragging up the past in his mind.
One analogy is that of custom. In Ndebele custom, a baby, whose top teeth appeared first, was put to death as the spawn of a wizard. One of twins was also put to death. In customary law these killings were not murder. That was the historical context. That context can never excuse such killings today, simply because the perpetrator inwardly genuinely believes in the righteousness of his/her actions.
What Hanekon simply fails to realize is that everything changed with independence and the adoption of our Constitution. Human beings were rendered as all equal. In such a context there is simply no room for applying what happened in the past, in order to justify a person calling for the death of others.
What is tragic is that it is obvious that people like Hanekom and Winnie, as leaders, have a genuine belief in this obscene stance. It shows the extent to which apartheid damaged emotional intelligence. It also proves William Falkners immortal statement -
the past is not the past, in fact it is the present.
For God's sake, we really do need to start moving forward ... really ... or we are doomed ... for having little hope of building nationhood!