Johannesburg – Racism has the ability to undermine the democratic progress of the country and can single-handedly cause deeper divides between race groups.
World leaders have often preached about the dangers of racism, including former President Nelson Mandela, who said: “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or religion. People must learn to hate and if they can learn to hate they can be taught to love for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has urged people from all walks of life to take an Anti-Racism pledge this Human Rights Day. This involves making a personal promise to refrain from hate speech and to embrace diversity.
The SAHRC said the pledge involves an individual agreeing to six simple statements, including:
I commit to building a South Africa free of racism and hate speech.
I pledge to reject hate speech, intolerance and all forms of discrimination.
I pledge to embrace the diversity, differences and shared humanity that enrich us all.
I affirm that our diversity should unite us, not divide us.
I pledge to fight against racism.
I affirm that hate speech and bigotry should have no place in our society.
South Africa celebrates Human Rights Day on Tuesday, a public holiday which aims to remind us about the sacrifices that accompanied the Struggle for the attainment of democracy.
Although it has been 23 years since apartheid officially ended, the SAHRC said that they still receive several racism-related complaints.
According to their 2015/2016 Trends Analysis Report, the commission received 749 equality- related complaints, 505 related to unfair discrimination on the basis of race. The report also showed that the top three equality rights most violated were race, disability and ethnic or social origin.
It added that most of the Equality Court cases involve the use of the “K-word” and other derogatory comments with racial undertones such as use of the terms baboon or monkey.
“Despite the establishment of the constitution of the Republic of South Africa in 1996 and the plethora of anti-racism laws, racism remains endemic in South Africa,” the report read.
The SAHRC also found that, in 2015/2016, most of the complaints came from Gauteng, with 1 110 grievances; the Western Cape followed with 670, while KwaZulu-Natal ranked third with 581. The Northern Cape recorded the lowest number of complaints with 134.