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Bid for hate speech to be legally criminal

Pupils from Gibson Pillay Private School in Lenasia, Johannesburg, during the launch of Anti-Racism Week. Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

Pupils from Gibson Pillay Private School in Lenasia, Johannesburg, during the launch of Anti-Racism Week. Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

Published Mar 15, 2016

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Cape Town - A draft bill that seeks to criminalise hate speech is to be tabled in Parliament for debate this year. Speaking at the SA Human Rights Commission’s two-day conference in Joburg, Justice Minister Michael Masutha said the department was also trying to expand the draft to include other provisions dealing with hate speech as an offence.

Moments before Masutha took to the podium, DA federal chairman Athol Trollip issued a statement berating a “racist attack” in which a black pizza delivery man on a motorbike was “intentionally knocked down” by a white bakkie-driving motorist in Port Elizabeth recently.

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“There is no place for discriminatory and hateful behaviour of this nature in our community. The man responsible for this must be criminally investigated, given the video proof that clearly shows the premeditated attack taking place,” said Trollip.

He said he would open a case with the police against the suspect.

“We need unwavering commitment to redress from every South African; a deliberate and conscious effort to work together to right the wrongs of our past. We have to do this together, without exception, otherwise we will struggle to shake off the shackles of our dark history.”

Masutha said the bill would be subjected to a broad consultative process before it was submitted to Parliament for consideration. He hoped to table it “around August, September this year” and called on the conference to address difficulties faced by many in accessing information on their rights and the recourse to follow when those rights were violated.

“We must build communities and societies in which all persons are accepted and respected, irrespective of their race and gender,” the minister said.

Speaking earlier at the same event, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete said there was no country that was free of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other related intolerances.

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“We do not want to fuel the flames of the past, but in order for us to move beyond the past, we must talk about the issues that still confront us,” she said.

The question of racism needed to invariably remain on the public agenda “so all of us can engage with it… in Parliament, workplaces, the media, churches and mosques, universities and schools, so we guard this country against any form of division”.

She pleaded with the delegates to insist that the economic growth trajectory deracialise the economy as a step in changing the ownership patterns of the past.

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“This must also include the acceleration of the allocation of land. Unless we do so, reconciliation will be shallow and a dream deferred,” Mbete warned.

The government has been grappling with the scourge of racism after it erupted on social media this year, when KwaZulu-Natal estate agent Penny Sparrow called black beachgoers “monkeys”.

She was dismissed from the DA for bringing the party into disrepute.

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Cape Argus

* It's Anti-Racism Week in South Africa. Join the conversation at stopracism.iol.co.za

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