National Assembly calls for submmition on hate crimes Bill

The National Assembly hosting a joint sitting to debate. Picture: Siyasanga Mbambani.

The National Assembly hosting a joint sitting to debate. Picture: Siyasanga Mbambani.

Published Apr 29, 2023


The Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill is open for submissions.

Submissions are to be made in writing to Parliament till May 22.

This bill was introduced to create criminal offences for hate crimes and hate speech.

The purpose of the bill is to carry out the nation's commitments under the Constitution and international human rights treaties regarding racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and similar intolerance.

Shahidabibi Shaikh, the chairperson of the Selected Committee on Justice and Security, said that facilitating public engagement and participation is part of the constitutional obligations of Parliament and its committees.

‘’It is especially crucial in the drafting of legislation that the public is given an opportunity to have input and insight into what they would like to be included in bills. The committee, in ensuring that it executes its mandate, will take all public input into consideration when it later deliberate on these matters,’’ said Shaikh.

The bill also provides for appropriate sentences that may be imposed on people who commit hate crimes and hate speech offences.

The bill defines a hate crime as an offence recognised under any law, the commission of which by a person is motivated by that person’s prejudice or intolerance towards the victim of the crime in question because of one or more of the following characteristics or perceived characteristics of the victim or his or her family member or the victim’s association with, or support for, a group of persons who share the said characteristics which are:

Age, albinism, birth, colour, culture, disability, ethnic or social origin, gender or gender identity, HIV status, language, nationality, migrant or refugee status, occupation or trade, political affiliation or conviction, race, religion, sex, which includes intersex or sexual orientation.

The bill further states that “A person who commits a hate crime is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a sentence as contemplated in section 6(1).”

The University of Pretoria's Centre for Human Rights applauded Parliament for the legislation, saying it represents a significant step toward protecting all South Africans from hate crimes and hate speech, particularly those motivated by race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or any other form of discrimination.

Professor Frans Viljoengg, Director of the Centre for Human Rights, states that ‘’the bill is welcomed as an important recognition of the ongoing struggle against intolerance, discrimination, and prejudice in our society by establishing a comprehensive framework for preventing and combating hate crimes and hate speech it is a thorough plan for preventing and countering hate speech and crimes,’’ he said