Racism: A plague in SA’s politics

Published Jun 20, 2024


Despite South Africa’s progress in its efforts to forge a democratic and united rainbow nation, it is clear that racism still plagues the country as the public utterances of a Member of Parliament (MP) come to light.

An archive video of a DA member and newly appointed MP has emerged on social media and caused an uproar because of the racial remarks spewed against people of colour. A lot of people have expressed how disappointed and hurt they are because of the racist remarks DA MP Renaldo Gouws made publicly.

A change.org petition, which Kimberley Jones started on June 16 calling for the removal of Gouws from parliament, garnered more than 20,000 signatures within 24 hours.

In recent years, a growing number of South Africans have faced the consequences of spewing hate speech. IOL takes a look at some politicians who have been racist in the past:

As recent as May Johannesburg businessman, Willem Ackerman was charged for repeatedly using the k-word and found guilty of hate speech by the Equality Court. He was ordered to pay R500,000 to the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, make a public apology to his associates and undergo 50 hours of racial sensitisation with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

In 2020, Belinda Magor was charged with crimen injuria and conspiracy to commit murder for a racist voice note that she shared and was circulated on WhatsApp. In 2022 at the KwaZulu-Natal High Court, Magor pleaded guilty to the charges.

DA member Penny Sparrow was charged in January 2016 for making racist remarks on social media. Sparrow was found guilty of hate speech in the Equality Court and ordered to pay R150,000 to the Adelaide and Oliver Tambo Foundation. She was also fined R5,000 by the Scottburgh Magistrate’s Court for crimen injuria.

In the same year, Justin van Vuuren was also charged for alleged racist remarks on social media.

Chris Hart, a former economist at Standard Bank posted an alleged racist tweet and was suspended pending an inquiry by Standard Bank on January 4, 2016. He was not charged, even though several court cases were opened against him. He chose to resign from Standard Bank after being heavily criticised on social media.

It is clear as day that the fight against racism is far from over but what we can hope for is a brighter tomorrow and a new era of equality and understanding.