Most media commentators viewed Sparrow’s remarks and the subsequent far less controversial comments of Chris Hart and Gareth Cliff as evidence of rampant and pervasive white racism. However, an analysis of Facebook and Twitter messages shows that by far the most virulent and dangerous racism – expressed in the most extreme and violent language – has come from disaffected black South Africans. The messages are replete with threats to kill all whites – including children; to rape white women or to expel all whites from South Africa.
Section 16(1) of the Constitution states that everyone has the right to freedom of expression and section 16(2) adds that this right does not extend to propaganda for war; to Incitement to imminent violence; or to advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.
Section 10 of the Promotion of Equality and Prohibition of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA), which deals with hate speech, states that “no person may publish, propagate, advocate or communicate words based on one or more of the prohibited grounds, against any person, that could be construed to be hurtful; to be harmful or to incite harm; or to promote or propagate hatred.”
In the Foundation’s view, the messages that it has submitted to the SAHRC starkly contravene all these provisions.
The Foundation has requested the SAHRC to make use of its powers “to investigate and to report on the observance of human rights” in so far as these messages constitute hate speech in terms of section 16 (2) of the Constitution and Section 10 of PEPUDA.
It has also asked the SAHRC to use its powers to “take steps to secure appropriate redress where human rights have been violated” and, if it believes it to be appropriate, to refer communications that directly incite the killing of people or the perpetration of grievous bodily harm, to the National Director of Public Prosecutions for further consideration.
The Foundation calls on the Government and on South Africans of goodwill from all our communities come together urgently to condemn racism from whatever source it comes.
Issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation