Pretoria - The University of Pretoria lecturer who resigned last week after publishing a racist blog claiming that “baby rape” was “a cultural phenomenon among the black population groups” may be charged with hate speech by the SA Human Rights Commission.
But despite the resignation, the row which erupted after the publishing of the racist commentary showed no signs of subsiding, as right-wing Afrikaners continued to attack the person who reported the article.
This week it emerged that the lecturer, Dr Louise Mabille, had written an article on the controversial Afrikaner language rights website Praag.co.za, led by author and activist for Afrikaner cultural rights Dan Roodt.
Mabille has repeatedly said she repudiates and apologises unconditionally for the article, and it has since been removed from the website on her insistence.
“Of course it’s much easier to endlessly (argue) about Calvinism than to ask why baby rape is a cultural phenomenon among the black population groups,” Mabille wrote in Afrikaans.
“Leftist feminists conveniently avoid real threats to women. We find an absence, for example, of a proper feminist criticism of President Jacob Zuma and his crude patriarchal practices. Personally, I would think it would be a priority to make mincemeat of a violent rapist and in whose language a word for this crime didn’t even exist before the arrival of Europeans.”
“Not even his charming habit of having children with all women who cross his path comes up,” she wrote.
SAHRC spokesman Isaac Mangena said while they had not received a formal complaint about Mabille’s essay, it had initiated an investigation of its own.
“Based on the constitutional mandate to protect and monitor human rights, we decided to launch our own investigation and we opened a file on Friday,” Mangena said. He said while the investigation was at a preliminary stage, it was likely to centre on elements of hate speech in Mabille’s essay.
Mabille was due to engage gender activist and film-maker Gillian Schutte in a Café Riche debate in Pretoria this weekend but Schutte said she pulled out when she became aware of Mabille’s essay.
Schutte was also alerted to an advertisement for the debate on the Praag website, describing her as “hyper politically correct” as well as putting online a photo of her and her black husband and son.
University of Johannesburg politics lecturer Piet Croucamp, who reported Mabille’s essay to the University of Pretoria this week, said while her article was “atrocious” there was often much worse content on the Praag website.
“People don’t know about (the website). But some of the (content) is just brutal,” he said.
He said in the past Mabille had responded at length to other contributors’ work on the site, although Mabille denied this when speaking to The Sunday Independent on Saturday. However, Croucamp speculated that Roodt would have been pained to have to remove content from his site.
Roodt confirmed he had never received any complaints about his website before.
He said he had met Mabille about four or five years ago at Café Riche, and that they had shared an interest in continental philosophy.
He found her interesting, saying she had “independent opinions”.
However, he would not be drawn on what Mabille’s motivations were for resigning, but he did add that he was concerned about freedom of speech and academic freedom.
“It seems to me there is a degree of political correctness which is so extreme that it poses a threat to free speech and the constitutional freedoms in this country. Intellectual dissidents and people who are critical are being targeted by histrionic groups, like Dr Croucamp,” Roodt said. But Mabille, who contacted The Sunday Independent on Saturday, distanced herself from Roodt, saying his comments were merely his opinion.
“I unconditionally retract what I said and I also unconditionally apologise. It was a very unwise decision and I regret it intensely,” she said. “I made a stupid mistake. It isn’t who I really am, I just expressed myself very badly.”
University of Pretoria spokeswoman Nicolize Mulder said the institution was quite clear that it could not condone racism or hate speech in any way.