The South African Jewish Board of Deputies said on Thursday it is in the process of instituting criminal and civil charges against a trade union leader.

Tony Ehrenreich, provincial secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Western Cape branch), was accused of hate speech and incitement to violence against the elected, representative leadership of the South African Jewish community.

This will include laying charges of incitement with the police and lodging a formal complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission.

On August 13, Ehrenreich published a statement on Facebook accusing the SAJBD of being “complicit in the murder of the people in Gaza” and called on the South African population to target it for revenge attacks whenever a woman or child in Gaza was killed.

In his post, Ehrenreich wrote: “The time has come to say very clearly that if a woman or child is killed in Gaza, then the Jewish Board of Deputies, who are complicit, will feel the wrath of the people of SA with the age old biblical teaching of an eye for an eye. The time has come for the conflict to be waged everywhere the Zionist supporters fund and condone the war killing machine of Israel.”

Board chairwoman Mary Kluk said that the post was a flagrant violation of South African law prohibiting hate speech and incitement to cause harm.

“Ehrenreich’s inflammatory post incites violence and hatred against the representative body for South African Jewry. What makes it even worse is the fact that he holds a leadership position within COSATU, South Africa’s largest trade union organization.

It also comes at a time of heightened tension over the Israel-Gaza conflict, thereby inflaming an already volatile situation” she said.

The latest post by Ehrenreich came in the wake of a recent statement he issued in which the SAJBD was warned to cease its “Zionist propaganda” in Cape Town by August 7 or face a COSATU-led campaign of strikes and boycotts against its members, supporting companies and organizations.

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