South African puppeteer to challenge gagging order

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Conrad Koch Puppet Gag Order
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South African puppeteer to challenge gagging order
Comedian Conrad Koch on stage with his puppet Chester Missing during a performance of the Chester Missing Roadshow, directed by award-winning Heinrich Reisenhofer, at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg on May 7, 2013. With an honors degree in anthropology ventriloquist Conrad Koch challenges South African politicians such as President Jacob Zuma and the recently expelled African National Congress (ANC) Youth League leader Julius Malema. AFP PHOTO / JENNIFER BRUCE (Photo credit should read JENNIFER BRUCE/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY SUSAN NJANJI Comedian Conrad Koch gestures with his puppet Chester Missing during a performance of the Chester Missing Roadshow, directed by award-winning Heinrich Reisenhofer, at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg on May 7, 2013. With an honors degree in anthropology ventriloquist Conrad Koch challenges South African politicians such as President Jacob Zuma and the recently expelled African National Congress (ANC) Youth League leader Julius Malema. AFP PHOTO / JENNIFER BRUCE (Photo credit should read JENNIFER BRUCE/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY SUSAN NJANJI Comedian Conrad Koch prepares for a performance of the Chester Missing Roadshow, directed by award-winning Heinrich Reisenhofer, at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg on May 7, 2013. With an honors degree in anthropology ventriloquist Conrad Koch challenges South African politicians such as President Jacob Zuma and the recently expelled African National Congress (ANC) Youth League leader Julius Malema. AFP PHOTO / JENNIFER BRUCE (Photo credit should read JENNIFER BRUCE/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY SUSAN NJANJI Comedian Conrad Koch prepares in his dressing room for a performance of the Chester Missing Roadshow, directed by award-winning Heinrich Reisenhofer, at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg on May 7, 2013. With an honors degree in anthropology ventriloquist Conrad Koch challenges South African politicians such as President Jacob Zuma and the recently expelled African National Congress (ANC) Youth League leader Julius Malema. AFP PHOTO / JENNIFER BRUCE (Photo credit should read JENNIFER BRUCE/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY SUSAN NJANJI Comedian Conrad Koch's talks to his puppet, Chester Missing, shortly before the start of a performance of the Chester Missing Roadshow, directed by award-winning Heinrich Reisenhofer, at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg on May 7, 2013. With an honors degree in anthropology ventriloquist Conrad Koch challenges South African politicians such as President Jacob Zuma and the recently expelled African National Congress (ANC) Youth League leader Julius Malema. AFP PHOTO / JENNIFER BRUCE (Photo credit should read JENNIFER BRUCE/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY SUSAN NJANJI Comedian Conrad Koch talks to the audience before bringing on stage his puppet Chester Missing during a performance of the Chester Missing Roadshow, directed by award-winning Heinrich Reisenhofer, at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg on May 7, 2013. With an honors degree in anthropology ventriloquist Conrad Koch challenges South African politicians such as President Jacob Zuma and the recently expelled African National Congress (ANC) Youth League leader Julius Malema. AFP PHOTO / JENNIFER BRUCE (Photo credit should read JENNIFER BRUCE/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY SUSAN NJANJI Comedian Conrad Koch takes his puppet Chester Missing from his dressing room to the stage in preparation for a performance of the Chester Missing Roadshow, directed by award-winning Heinrich Reisenhofer, at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg on May 7, 2013. With an honors degree in anthropology ventriloquist Conrad Koch challenges South African politicians such as President Jacob Zuma and the recently expelled African National Congress (ANC) Youth League leader Julius Malema. AFP PHOTO / JENNIFER BRUCE (Photo credit should read JENNIFER BRUCE/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY SUSAN NJANJI Comedian Conrad Koch's talks to his puppet, Chester Missing, shortly before the start of a performance of the Chester Missing Roadshow, directed by award-winning Heinrich Reisenhofer, at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg on May 7, 2013. With an honors degree in anthropology ventriloquist Conrad Koch challenges South African politicians such as President Jacob Zuma and the recently expelled African National Congress (ANC) Youth League leader Julius Malema. AFP PHOTO / JENNIFER BRUCE (Photo credit should read JENNIFER BRUCE/AFP/Getty Images)
Comedian Conrad Koch on stage with his puppet Chester Missing during a performance of the Chester Missing Roadshow, directed by award-winning Heinrich Reisenhofer, at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg on May 7, 2013. With an honors degree in anthropology ventriloquist Conrad Koch challenges South African politicians such as President Jacob Zuma and the recently expelled African National Congress (ANC) Youth League leader Julius Malema. AFP PHOTO / JENNIFER BRUCE (Photo credit should read JENNIFER BRUCE/AFP/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 11: Steve Hofmeyer attends the Comedy Central Roast of Steve Hofmeyer at the Lyric Theatre, Gold Reef City on September 11, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Justin Barlow/Gallo Images/Getty Images for MTV)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 11: Steve Hofmeyer and Robert Whitehead (R) during the Comedy Central Roast of Steve Hofmeyer at the Lyric Theatre, Gold Reef City on September 11, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Justin Barlow/Gallo Images/Getty Images for MTV)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 11: Steve Hofmeyer during the Comedy Central Roast of Steve Hofmeyer at the Lyric Theatre, Gold Reef City on September 11, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Justin Barlow/Gallo Images/Getty Images for MTV)
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JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- Chester Missing's broad brown face is familiar on South African television where he is known for provocative, funny comments on politics and racial issues. Missing asks South African politicians questions that few others would dare.

Now he has been gagged by a court order to stop challenging a white singer.

Chester Missing is a puppet.

Ventriloquist To Challenge Gag Order On Puppet

Comedian Conrad Koch, who is the ventriloquist for Missing, says that he will fight the gag order against his puppet in court.

The white comedian strongly denies allegations that tweets criticizing the singer Steve Hofmeyr amount to hate speech.

The singer said the tweets, which came from the Twitter account of the puppet, accused him of racism. He said he obtained a court order barring the ventriloquist and his puppet from making any statements about him in public or on social media.

The ventriloquist said he would not comment directly on the order, "out of respect for court processes."

"I don't admit to the allegations and will be opposing them strongly, very strongly," he said. The case will be heard in a Johannesburg magistrate's court on Nov. 27, according to a statement from the singer.

The singer had tweeted to about 121,000 followers on Nov. 3 that the ruling African National Congress is victimizing white South Africans. In a related Facebook statement where he discussed the merits of segregation under apartheid, the singer wrote: "Apartheid was cruel, unfortunate and unsustainable, but WHAT inspired that maddening segregation?"

In response, the ventriloquist began a campaign calling on sponsors to remove their support from the singer and asking South Africans to boycott any commercial brand associated with him. A local car dealership said it removed the singer's sponsored car. One of South Africa's largest supermarket chains said in a statement that while it "rejects Steve Hofmeyr's comments on apartheid," it will not revoke sponsorship of a festival where Hofmeyr is to perform.

The ventriloquist and his popular puppet, known for controversial political commentary, still perform on South African television and on stage. Nevertheless, he said the court order has affected his act.

"I do feel like I'm cautious about what I say," he said. "I talk about race and culture all the time."

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