Picture: Jennifer Bruce/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The Equality Court will on Monday morning hear an application by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to have the old apartheid South African flag declared a symbol of hate speech. 

The foundation wants the court to declare the display of this flag as illegal and impose sanctions on those who display it freely in public. It said there is only one flag that represents South Africa and that is the post-1994 flag. 

"Displays of the apartheid flag are a rejection of history as it is, and express a desire for black people to be relegated to labour reserves, a pining for the killing, the torture, the abductions, melancholia for the inhumane treatment of black people, the death squads, the curfews and the horrific atrocities committed under the flag," said the foundation. 

The old South African flag has often been seen as a symbol of hate and bloodshed and its display has often provoked strong opinions from the public. 

The foundation said the order will "allow for gracious displays of the apartheid flag to be sanctioned with non-criminal fines and any other order the court deems fit". 

In a statement, the foundation mentioned two incidents were the flag was displayed which motivated for its court action. 

"In October 2017, during #BlackMonday protests across the country mourning the murder of white farmers, a minority of white protesters flew the Apartheid flag, almost threatening racial retaliation for the murders. In September last year, when the Boks triumphed over the All Blacks in New Zealand, a particularly large Apartheid flag was sighted by the commentary box at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington," said the foundation's Kneo Mokgopa. 

AfriForum will oppose the foundation's application. 

"AfriForum opposes the application, stating that it is merely offensive and can hurt people's’ feelings, but that freedom of expression must be protected, especially because hate speech only covers words and that not all people who display the Apartheid flag intend to seriously demean the dignity of the people who suffered under Apartheid," said Mokgopa. 

The foundation has requested that South Africans should support its efforts by publically endorsing the current South African flag "which represents our country and shared beliefs".

The court application will be heard at 10 am at the Equality Court in Joburg. 

IOL