Cape Town-140225-Former chairperson of the Western Cape Community Police Board, Hanif Loonat. In pic, left is Philip Bam, Grassy Park CPF and Greg Duncan , Loonat's Lawyer on right-Reporter-Daneel Knoetze-Photographer-Tracey Adams

Cape Town - A liaison officer with Cape Town’s civilian oversight committee has been suspended in connection with comments made on Facebook about the conflict in Gaza.

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies filed a complaint against Hanif Loonat with the SA Human Rights Commission last Monday about “threatening” comments posted on his Facebook account.

Board chairwoman Mary Kluk said comments posted on August 3 had led to the filing of the complaint.

The board had notified the City of Cape Town of the complaint.

Richard Bosman, the city’s director of safety and security, said on Sunday Loonat had been suspended.

It would be investigated whether he had violated the code of conduct governing the civilian oversight committee, Bosman said.

As the committee’s liaison officer, Loonat was not a city employee, he said.

Kluk said one of the Facebook messages that led to the complaint was: “About 2 000 watch next Saturday’s march in Cape Town.

We expecting 50 000 plus from the entire country. I challenge the Zionists to have a march in Cape Town. I promise you there will be a bloodbath.”

Another said: “We are ready to die for Palestine. Try our patience you cowards. Enough is enough.”

to show you the pain our fellow brothers and sisters are undergoing.”

Kluk said South Africans had the right to freedom of expression, but the board thought Loonat had abused this right. “Everyone’s emotions are running high. Loonat has to think about the public comment he makes.”

Loonat said he had been notified on Friday about his suspension and was consulting his lawyers. His comments did not amount to hate speech, he said. “I am free to speak about what is happening in Palestine, the way I choose to. I was surprised to see that before I received a notice that I have been suspended, the (board) posted the news online.”

Cape Times