The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has outlined what constitutes hate speech, saying that there is a widespread misunderstanding
on the subject. The commission released its findings on the investigation into complaints of hate speech against EFF leader Julius Malema on Wednesday.
Five complaints were logged with the commission, including one of a tweet by
EFF secretary general Godrich Gardee. The commission found that all five statements did not constitute hate speech.
“The Constitutional Court is of the view that certain words or expression will depend on whether [they are] uttered by a white person or a black person and against a white person or a black person. In accordance to the ConCourt jurisprudence, the identity of the offender and target group as belonging to a vulnerable group will have an impact in determining hate speech and robust speech must be protected so that marginalised persons can convey anger and frustration at the systems of social injustice.”
Statement issued by Ernst Roets, Deputy CEO, AfriForum – 27 March 2019
AfriForum will oppose the ruling of the Human Rights Commission (HRC) – that utterances by Julius Malema, leader of the EFF, against white people does not amount to hate speech – in court. It is extremely concerning for the civil rights organisation that the HRC in essence with this ruling justifies blatant hate speech and the incitement of violence against a minority group. Further, the HRC also found today that Malema is not guilty of hate speech on various charges that were submitted against him between 2016 and 2018.
In 2016 Malema had the following to say about white people: “…They found peaceful Africans here. They killed them. They slaughtered them like animals. We are not calling for the slaughtering of White people, at least for now. What we are calling for is the peaceful occupation of the land and we don’t owe anyone an apology for that…”
Hate speech is forbidden in terms of Section 10 of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, 2000 (Act No. 4 of 2000). This Act determines that no person may publish, propagate, advocate or communicate words based on one or more of the prohibited grounds, against any person, that could reasonably be construed to demonstrate a clear intention to (a) be hurtful; (b) be harmful or to incite harm; (c) promote or propagate hatred.
The HRC, in its ruling about Malema’s utterances against white people, admits that the statement criticises white people and that it could be offensive for some white people, upset them, or lead them to argue that it is racially biased: “However, it is clear that White colonial settlers did occupy Black land, by both violent and non-violent means. It is also clear that currently White people, albeit a political minority, have significant economic power. Importantly, this statement is about how White people behaved historically. It is not about how they are behaving now. Mr Malema also specifically says he is not calling for the killing or slaughtering of White people now. He is only calling for the occupation of their land.”
“According to the HRC’s ruling it is further important to take into account the factual, social and historical context in which Malema made his utterances, and also that the identity of the group targeted by his utterance must belong to a vulnerable group. The HRC also relies on a court ruling which determined that vulnerable people must be allowed to express their anger and pain by means of the use of robust speech. With this the HRC insinuates that white people are not a vulnerable group, despite the fact that this group is a minority group in South Africa. It is also concerning that the HRC argues that individuals from certain race groups must be allowed to utter racist things, provided that it is done in the right context,” says Ernst Roets, Deputy CEO of AfriForum.
According to Roets, the HRC’s ruling is in further contrast to a working papers of the United Nations’ Forum on Minority Issues which determines that minority status is not dependent on poverty: “To be clear, minority status and poverty are not co-terminus; in fact, membership in a strong, cohesive minority community may even improve the economic prospects of minorities because of factors such as solidarity, communal ownership of goods and wealth, or the psychological benefits of taking pride in one’s ethnic, religious, cultural or linguistic identity. It is also sometimes the case that minority communities are economically dominant (for example because of specialization in certain fields of employment), while still being denied a range of human rights, in particular access to political power and protection from discrimination.”
AfriForum cannot allow that individuals with political power, such as Malema, get away with racist utterances. Support AfriForum in this battle: SMS “Haatspraak” to 32782 (R1).