Former Supreme Court of South Africa Judge Rex van Schalkwyk has castigated the ANC for using the proposed Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, or the so-called the “Hate Speech Bill”, as a means to propagate its political rhetoric, which he described as anti-white racialism.
Van Schalkwyk is the latest of several public figures and organisations to speak out against the proposed legislation.
“In South Africa at the moment, for political reasons, one of the most significant issues that arises from the rhetoric of the ANC is the issue of racialism. And I have no doubt that the Hate Speech Bill was constructed around the issue of perceived racialism,” he said, speaking at a Free Market Foundation (FMF) dialogue on the legislation.
The proposed Bill, which was opened for public comment last year, states that a “base offence” constitutes a hate crime when the motivation involved prejudice, bias or intolerance because of: race, gender, sex, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, religion, belief, culture, language, birth, HIV status, nationality, gender identity, intersex, albinism and occupation or trade.
It was drafted after the widespread outrage which emanated from the racist rant posted on Facebook by estate agent Penny Sparrow who referred to black people as “monkeys”.
Van Schalkwyk pointed out several pieces of existing legislation, including the Bill of Rights and the common law against crimen injuria, which dealt with racism and hate speech, suggesting that the proposed law was both impracticable and redundant.
Quoting research by the Institute of Race Relations, which recently found that only 4% of South Africans experienced racism, the former judge suggested that the issue of racialism in South Africa was significantly blown out of proportion by the ANC.
Meanwhile, the South African Human Rights Commission said on Wednesday that during the 2015-16 financial year, the commission received 505 race-related complaints.
“This indicates that deep inequalities and unfair discrimination remains a serious concern.”