STATEMENT: CORRODING NATION-BUILDING THROUGH HATE SPEECH

sa-flag-foterThe FW de Klerk Foundation condemns recent comments by Mr Sandile Memela in an article on the Mail & Guardian’s Thought Leader website on Tuesday, 4 March 2014.

In the article, Memela questioned whether Oscar Pistorius would be on trial if he had shot and murdered a black man.Memela wrote that, to his mind, "There is no doubt…that Oscar would have been forgiven for mercilessly killing a black man who would have broken into his house". Memela went further to say "You see, when some whites buy and collect guns, it is to kill two things. Animals and black people. In fact, as far as some gun-toting white males are concerned, sometimes there is no distinction between the two…It is expected for white men to shoot and kill black men to protect their property and beloved families".

Memela also stated that "sometimes they (black men) are forced by economic circumstances - inequality, poverty, unemployment and envy for what white people have. Sometimes it is a deep-seated desire for revenge for stolen land and the monopolisation of mineral resources and wealth".

Memela has responded by saying the article is an individual opinion that contributed to national discourse and debate.

This is nonsense. His remarks portray white South Africans as unreconstructed racists who wish to kill black South Africans at the least provocation and who regard black South Africans as animals. He also appears to justify attacks on white South Africans by black South Africans. Such wildly provocative and unfounded statements can have only one objective: the stirring up of racial animosity. The irony is that Memela occupies the post of Chief Director of Social Cohesion in the Department of Arts and Culture!

South Africa is a democracy based on non-racialism and non-sexism. Our Constitution allows for freedom of expression in section 16 of the Bill of Rights. However, Section 10 of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000 prohibits hate speech and states that "no person may publish, propagate, advocate or communicate words based on one or more of the prohibited grounds (including race) that could reasonably be construed to demonstrate a clear intention to be hurtful, be harmful or promote or propagate hatred."

Memela's views can certainly be so construed.

The FW de Klerk Foundation accordingly calls upon the Department of Arts and Culture to repudiate Memela’s comments; to explain how they are consistent with the promotion of national cohesion in light thereof; and to ensure that Memela apologises to all those whom his intemperate racial views have offended.

Issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation

Photo credit: coda / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA