The Nelson Mandela Foundation announced the court date when the matter of whether gratuitous displays of the old official flag of apartheid SA constitutes hate speech will be heard. Picture: Matthews Baloyi/ANA/African News Agency

Johannesburg - The Nelson Mandela Foundation on Monday announced the court date when the matter of whether gratuitous displays of the old official flag of apartheid South Africa constitutes hate speech, unfair discrimination and harassment based on race, will be heard.

In February 2018 the Nelson Mandela Foundation announced that it had made an application to the Equality Court for an order declaring that gratuitous displays of the old official flag of apartheid South Africa constitutes as hate speech, unfair discrimination and harassment based on race.

NMF said in a statement that it is time to acknowledge that the old flag was a symbol of what was a crime against humanity and that its gratuitous public display celebrates that crime and humiliates everyone who fought against it, especially black South Africans.  

"It is important that the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (“Equality Act”) be used as an instrument to discourage such behaviour."

"AfriForum is opposing the Foundation’s application, primarily on the basis that the order sought by us would infringe on South Africans’ right to freedom of expression.  They also argue that the Equality Act’s provisions on hate speech don’t cover displays and communications involving symbols and images rather than words," said the foundation.

The foundation said the South African Human Rights Commission and Johannesburg Pride were supporting the application. In its heads of argument, the Commission has declared an interest in forcing amendments to the Equality Act should its hate speech provisions be found by the Court not to cover displays of symbols like flags.

"The Foundation embraces the Constitution’s enshrined right to freedom of expression.  It also believes that South Africans must respect constitutional limits on that right and must protect each other’s right to dignity," said the foundation.

The Court will be hearing the matter on 29 and 30 April 2019.

African News Agency/ANA