A Nigerian Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) has ‘reported’ Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for allegedly causing the death of at least 15 people and the injuring of hundreds of others after a speech he gave prompted his countrymen to run amok in two of South Africa’s major cities and carry out xenophobic attacks on African migrants.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), a Nigerian NGO, has requested ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to use her “good offices and position to investigate allegations of hate speech by King Zwelithini, which has resulted in killing, violence and discrimination against Nigerians and other African citizens living in South Africa, as well as the complicity/negligence of the country’s law enforcement agencies to prevent these crimes against civilian population”. The organisation also urged Mrs Bensouda to “bring to justice anyone who is responsible for these international crimes prohibited under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”
In the petition dated yesterday, 23 April 2015 and signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organisation said that it “considers the use of speech by the Zulu King to promote hatred and/or incite violence against non-nationals such as Nigerians, particularly in the media, as a clear violation of the provisions of the Rome Statute of ICC. “Grave statements by political leaders/prominent people that express discrimination and cause violence against non-nationals cannot be justified under any law. This hate speech generated fear and hatred that created the conditions for violence and discrimination against Nigerians and other African citizens. SERAP believes that this has given rise to individual criminal responsibility under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court,” the organisation said. The organisation argued that “the statement by the Zulu King amounts to a harmful form of expression which incites or otherwise promotes hatred, discrimination, violence and intolerance. We are seriously concerned that crimes against humanity are often accompanied or preceded by the kind of statement made by the Zulu King. Once the climate of violence has been created, direct and public incitement to crimes builds on it, exacerbating the situation by further heating up passions and directing South Africans’ hatred towards non-nationals such as Nigerians. Hate speech by King Zulu is legally tied to contemporaneous, large-scale violence and inhumane and discriminatory treatment of Nigerians and other African citizens,” the organisation argued.