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Johannesburg - The Equality Court has ruled the gratuitous display of the old apartheid South African flag as hate speech. 

Judge Phineas Mojapelo made the judgment on Wednesday and said the display of the apartheid flag does harm and should be considered as hate speech, unfair discrimination and harassment. 

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. 

Mojapelo said no good could come from gratuitously displaying the old flag and those who do so and not display the new democratic flag, choose oppression over liberating symbols. He said those who display also aim to insult and express feelings of white supremacy. 

The application was brought by the Nelson Mandela Foundation which asked 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.   

AfriForum opposed the foundation's application and cited freedom of speech and asked the court not to ban the display of the old flag. The organisation had argued that the Equality Act speaks of hate speech in words and not symbols. It used freedom of expression in its defence. 

Mojapelo disagreed with AfriForum's argument saying and said the act could also be applied to the waving of the apartheid flag.

IOL