AfriForum deputy CEO Ernst Roet. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)

Johannesburg - AfriForum's head of policy Ernst Roets has drawn widespread condemnation on social media after he posted the old South African flag just hours after the Equality Court ruled against its public display.

Roets' post was accompanied by the caption: "Did I just commit hate speech?"

Twitter users slammed Roets for his post, with some threatening legal action. 

In his Wednesday ruling, Judge Phineas Mojapelo said displaying the old flag constituted hate speech and discrimination based on race. He added that the apartheid-era flag be allowed for academic, artistic and journalistic use only if there was a need and permission to do so.

Addressing journalists after the ruling on Wednesday, AfriForum, a minority rights lobby group, and the Nelson Mandela Foundation said they would work together to find common ground as advised by Judge Mojapelo. 

NMF CEO Sello Hatang said the judgment was "not a victory" for his organisation until such time the judge’s concluding remarks are achieved.  

Reacting to Roets' tweet displaying the flag, Hatang said he was disappointed.

"We shook hands after the judgment and I said I would write to them for a follow-up on what the judge said...but then not only did they poo-poo the judgment, but about an hour later the deputy CEO of AfriForum posted the apartheid flag on his Twitter page, and that is such an unfortunate thing to happen," Hatang told Radio 702.

AfriForum opposed the NMF's court application to have the old flag deemed illegal. The organisation said the subsequent judgment was a setback for freedom of speech in the country and that it would need time to study the judgment before it can respond comprehensively and detail its way forward.

Responding to his critics on Twitter, Roets said his question accompanying the old flag was an academic one.

"The reaction to this tweet is as expected. The judgment said the flag may be used for academic purposes. I am a scholar of Constitutional Law, currently doing my doctorate. This is an academic question. It seems the NMF’s quest for apartheid-style censorship and banning continues."  

African News Agency/ANA