The people who belong to the court is (sic) FW de Klerk and all those whites who stole our land. But white minorities be warned, we will take our land. It doesn’t matter how…The land will be taken by whatever means necessary”.

Why is it important to take serious note of these comments and not dismiss them (as many do) as the rantings of an infantile political leader? Because Mr Malema’s statements are a repudiation of the core values on which our Constitution is founded – including human dignity, the achievement of equality, and the advancement of human rights and freedoms and non-racialism. It is also a direct contravention of section 16(2) of the Constitution which prohibits “propaganda for war; incitement of imminent violence; or advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.” Mr. Malema’s reference to the Constitution outside the court in Newcastle is a serious test of our collective understanding of our constitutional values.

Secondly, Mr Malema’s statements should not be viewed in the same class as the racist comments generated by private citizens in the social media. He is the leader of the third largest party in Parliament and his racist comments reflect the considered policy of his party.  They hold the threat of racial conflict that would destroy our constitutional democracy and leave South Africa in ruins.

Thirdly, Mr Malema’s assertion that whites (with FW de Klerk in the lead) stole the land of the black majority is not only a serious historical fallacy, but also an extremely dangerous idea.It is at the least stirring up racial polarisation and tension, and at the most creating a dangerous creation of “otherness”, which in Germany and Rwanda led to large-scale genocide.

Finally, Mr Malema’s statements are an attack on the whole of the post-1994 dispensation, not unlike the arguments of the #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall movements. It ruptures the fibre of our constitutional democracy and a free and non-racial South Africa.

The FW de Klerk Foundation rejects in the strongest possible terms Mr Malema’s reported statement and the transcripts of it. We are deeply concerned about the proliferation of slogans advocating race violence and the lack of action by the responsible authorities to condemn or counteract such hate speech. We are also extremely concerned about the incitement to unlawful occupation of land, which would violate not only a number of laws, but also section 25 of the Constitution.

The FW de Klerk Foundation will be requesting an urgent meeting with the Chairman of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to discuss these developments and the action that the Commission intends to take to counteract hate speech of this nature.

Issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation

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