Four people were killed when a walkway collapsed at Hoerskool Driehoek in Vanderbijilpark last week. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha/AfricanNewsAgency/ ANA

Johannesburg - The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said on Tuesday it was appalled by inappropriate comments on social media about the Hoërskool Driehoek tragedy.

Spokeswoman Gail Smith said the comments apparently made by Black First Land First (BLF) secretary and spokesman Lindsay Maasdorp and others in the wake of the Hoërskool Driehoek tragedy were insensitive, offensive, inappropriate and do not align with the ideals and aspirations of our constitutional democracy."

Last week, four pupils were killed and more than 20 others injured when a walkway at Hoërskool Driehoek in Vanderbijl Park collapsed.

"Kindness, compassion, and respect are basic human values which we should be extending to each other in a time of loss.  Death does not discriminate, grief cuts across race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nation, and culture," said Smith.

She said dignity was a constitutional value all were enjoined to respect.

Smith said while the commission recognises that free speech was a constitutionally protected right, it should be exercised in a way that does not infringe on the right to human dignity or on any other rights protected by the Constitution.  

"The right to free speech should be exercised responsibly. The death of children – irrespective of race, social class, colour, culture, or custom – is a tragedy. The commission reiterates its condolences to the grieving parents, families, classmates, educators, and friends of those who lost their lives," said Smith.

Smith said as of midday Tuesday the SAHRC has received approximately 80 complaints related to comments made on social media regarding the Driehoek tragedy.  

"The commission will be approaching the Equality Court for relief on utterances allegedly made by Maasdorp and will be assessing the merits of each of the other complaints received before deciding on a course of action," said Smith.

African News Agency (ANA)