A blog calling for the disenfranchisement of white men does not amount to hate speech, the Appeals Panel of the Press Council has ruled.
Judge Bernard Ngoepe and his panel overturned an earlier decision of the Press Ombudsman, Johan Retief, about a blog titled "Could it be time to deny white men the franchise?" published by HuffPost SA in April.
Former HuffPost SA editor Verashni Pillay appealed the ruling. Pillay resigned and apologised for the blog after it was revealed that the blogger was fake.
Pillay on Tuesday tweeted that the appeal was successful and thanked her lawyer Ben Winks for taking on the case pro bono .
She suggested that the Press Ombudsman needed to be held accountable for the original judgment.
Ngoepe and his panel found that the blog, written by a fake blogger called "Shirley Garland", did not denigrate white men and did not advocate hatred or incite harm. There must be room for "robust debate" in South Africa.
"It could well be that the piece irritated or annoyed some people; but to classify it as a hate speech would be too huge a jump," the panel ruled.