ANC mulls criminalising racism
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Cape Town - Following the most recent outbursts of discrimination on social media, the African National Congress (ANC) on Tuesday said it was time the country considered criminalising racism.
“The Office of the ANC Chief Whip in Parliament firmly believes that time has come for a specific legislation to be created by Parliament to criminalise any act that perpetuates racism or glorifies apartheid,” said ANC Chief Whip Stone Sizani.
“The current legislative provisions are not sufficient to punish and dissuade racists. As the majority party in Parliament, we will soon investigate creating a specific law or amending the existing legislation to ensure that acts of racism and promotion of apartheid are criminalised and punishable by imprisonment.”
Sizani’s announcement came after South Africans were outraged by racist observations of black beach goers and a tweet by a well-known economist.
Sizani said that the time had come for Parliament to reconsider relying “on the internal subjective processes of a political party or a company” and that, similar to dealing with Nazism and Holocaust denialism, racial bigotry and apartheid “must be considered serious human rights violations” punishable by imprisonment.
Sizani was commenting after the furore caused by KwaZulu-Natal-based realtor and member of the Democratic Alliance (DA) Penny Sparrow’s post on Facebook referring to black South Africans on KwaZulu-Natal beaches as monkeys.
“…all I saw were black on black skins what a shame… From now on I shall address the blacks of South Africa as monkeys,” Sparrow wrote.
Also commenting on black South Africans on Durban beaches, fitness enthusiast Justin Van Vuuren posted: “There is no control over these animals… These people are destroying the beach… Go back… to where you came from and take your 13 kids with you!”
Economist Chris Hart – promptly suspended by employer Standard Bank after a backlash about his tweet – had said that the victims of apartheid had a sense of entitlement.
Sizani also referred to DA member of Parliament Dianne Kohler-Barnard’s recent sharing of a post by journalist Paul Kirk in which he had praised former apartheid-era president PW Botha.
After the party’s internal disciplinary processes, Kohler-Barnard was permitted to return to Parliament.
Following widespread condemnation, the ANC said it was prompted to lay criminal charges against the three as well as lay formal complaints with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). The party did so on Tuesday, a day after the DA’s Herman Mashaba did so against Sparrow.
Sizani said that black South Africans had long been expected to embrace reconciliation as opposed to retribution while some white South Africans continued to “engage in acts of persecutions and torments driven by racial bigotry”.
“We can no longer as a nation tolerate such dehumanising violations, where [the] black majority are treated as subhumans and are referred to as monkeys, baboons and other derogatory racist epithets in the land of their birth,” he said.
African News Agency
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