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Loonat suspended for Facebook comment

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Local community activist, Hanif Loonat has been suspended from his post in the City of Cape Town’s Civilian Oversight Committee following a comment he wrote on his Facebook page regarding the conflict in Gaza. Loonat’s post referred to the “death of Zionist Israel”. The complaint was lodged by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies(SAJBD) and its affiliates.

Speaking to VOC News on Friday, Loonat said the remark was not a call to violence against Jews, but a call for the end of Zionism. He said it was the equivalent of saying “death to apartheid” and that it was meant to speak out against Israel’s aggression on Palestine.

SAJBD has also lodged complaints against Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich, in light of his comments on Facebook stating “an eye for an eye”.  On Friday, Ehrenreich said the Zionist lobby were seeking to silence any criticism against Israel and those who supported it.

Loonat said he is hoping to set up an internal hearing through which the reasons for his suspension could be discussed. Loonat maintains his innocence and said he will be taking the matter further as his views were posted in his personal capacity.

While the City of Cape Town has yet to confirm his suspension, SAJBD publically announced the decision on its Facebook page.

The post read: “Following reports on a series of slurs and threats made by a Mr Loonat to the community, we contacted the Mayor of Cape Town, and have been informed that the Mr Loonat will be suspended from the activities of the Civilian Oversight committee, pending an investigation into possible violations of the code of conduct of the committee.

“It is reassuring to know that there is zero tolerance by the City of Cape Town for any threats made against any community.”

VOC News made several attempts to get  SAJBD’s response on the matter, however, calls went unanswered.

Loonat said that at this point he would not be willing to divulge any information regarding the matter until it has been determined that he had in fact acted in contravention of the law. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)

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