According to the leader of the Herstigte Nasionale Party (HNP) and chairperson of the Boere-Afrikanervolksraad, Andries Breytenbach, President Jacob Zuma and other black people can “say whatever they like and it won’t be considered hate speech”.
Writing on the Afrikaans website Die Vryburger, Breytenbach complained that after he lodged a formal complaint against Zuma for his comments against white people earlier this year, he received a 26-page response this week from the SA Human Rights Commission (HRC), which cleared the president of hate speech.
Breytenbach had taken issue with Zuma’s comments, allegedly made at the ANC’s 104-year birthday celebrations, that white people stole land and were also to blame for poverty, inequality, and unemployment in the country.
But according to Breytenbach, the commission told him this does not constitute hate speech against white people.
Several organisations have lodged cases of hate speech against the president, among them AfriForum. Zuma has in the past said all South Africa’s problems began with the arrival of the first white settler Jan van Riebeeck in 1652.
Breytenbach wrote on Die Vryburger: “It is clear that blacks can say what they like; it will never be considered hate speech. They can say the whites are thieves, but don’t say they are messy like monkeys – and most complaints investigated by lawyers are from more blacks than whites.”
In his submission to the Human Rights Commission, Breytenbach claimed that anyone saying whites stole the land from the blacks was generating hatred between black and white communities, and provoking black people to act violently against them.
In his complaint against Zuma, he also reportedly mentioned farm attacks and attacks on the heritage of white people.
However, Breytenbach wrote that “In their lengthy reply, the commission reportedly cited a mixture of cases and political arguments confirmed from the ANC viewpoint, including Zuma’s right to freedom of speech, saying that it is part of a debate about the injustices of the past discussion. Therefore, the HRC believes that Zuma is not guilty of hate speech.”
He added that since he could lodge an appeal against the decision within 45 days, they would “study the judgment and keep their options open”.
The HNP (Reconstituted National Party) was formed as a far-right splinter group of the then ruling National Party in 1969.
Eugène Terre’Blanche had been a member of the HNP, but broke with the group in 1973, after becoming disillusioned with their adherence to electoral politics. He then established the paramilitary Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging.
The HNP has opposed participating in any of the democratic elections in South Africa since 1994 and is known for calling on their supporters not to vote as a sign of protest.
We have contacted the HRC for comment. They are checking their records about this matter and this story will be updated in due course.