DA quoted deputy justice minister John Jeffery out of context, says spokesperson

Deputy Minister of Justice John Jeffery. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Deputy Minister of Justice John Jeffery. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 6, 2023


Pretoria - The DA has been accused of quoting the Deputy Minister of Justice John Jeffery, out of context when claiming he meant that “white Afrikaners are the biggest perpetrators of hate crime and hate speech in South Africa”.

Chrispin Phiri, spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services, said Jeffery had, in response to the Freedom Front Plus, said their constituency was predominantly white Afrikaners, and he had been misunderstood.

“They were trying to illustrate that if there were perceptions of certain groups committing hate crimes, the proposed legislation would, in fact, protect those groups, among them white Afrikaners, when they themselves were victims of hate crimes.”

In a media statement titled, “John Jeffery reveals ANC’s true intentions behind the Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill”, DA spokesperson for Justice and Constitutional Development, advocate Glynnis Breytenbach, said the party condemned Jeffery’s remarks that white Afrikaners were the biggest perpetrators of hate crime and hate speech in South Africa.

Breytenbach said Jeffery had insinuated that opposition to the bill by the DA was based on the party’s supporters being persons who will commit offences under the Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill.

“The deputy minister admitted that these reckless and offensive statements have no scientific or statistical basis and serve only to cast derogatory aspersions on an entire group of South Africans.

“When challenged on the propriety and/or basis of his ill-advised comments, Jeffery defended his statements by stating that he is a member of the ANC, which has political objectives they wish to achieve with the bill – a chilling statement to say the least.”

She said his behaviour undermined the non-partisan legislative objective of portfolio committees and was an abuse of a platform not intended for cheap politicking.

“The ANC has made its belief clear – that, generally speaking, only persons of a particular skin colour may be guilty of hate speech and hate crimes. (As) long as this attitude remains, the bill will continue to be problematic,and the DA will continue to oppose it in Parliament.”

Breytenbach said the DA had a variety of concerns with the bill, which include that hatred should be used as an aggravating circumstance in sentencing rather than constituting an entirely new form of crime and that the root causes of prejudice in society will not be addressed through this bill.

“Instead, the bill seeks merely to punish the symptoms rather than address the root causes of crimes motivated by hate. It believes morality cannot not be legislated and the bill has a concerning potential to be used as a political tool.

Phiri said the deputy minister said “it works both ways. It applies to everybody”. He said the DA accused the deputy minister of politicking yet the DA had now opportunistically and deliberately, taken the deputy minister’s words out of context.

“The DA claims ‘the list of characteristics and grounds upon which a hate crime or hate speech may be committed is overly broad’.”

“It is important to highlight that the DA chose to exclude ‘sexual orientation’ from the list of protected characteristics and grounds in the bill, thus making members of the LGBTIQ+ more vulnerable to hate crimes and hate speech,” said Phiri.

Pretoria News