Hate speech in South Africa

"Particularly disconcerting is despite efforts made to deal with incidents of racism, these incidents continue to occur."

South Africa 521 (photo credit: REUTERS)
South Africa 521
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) required by our 1996 Constitution to protect human rights and avoid the abuses that were previously so regularly violated during Apartheid, appears to be failing in its mandate.
Tasked with investigating cases of xenophobia, hate speech and recently a reported racist attack on a black student at the University of Free State, its record of meting out justice against the perpetrators is woefully inadequate and ineffective.
Clearly its case load, with over 10,000 human rights complaints annually, 80 percent of these of a racial nature, is too onerous for any legal system to process and execute.
“What is particularly disconcerting is that despite efforts made by various individuals and institutions, including the commission, to deal with incidents of racism at the UFS, these incidents continue to occur,” SAHRC spokesman Isaac Mangena said in a statement.
The yawning disparity between the intended punishment, which in this case would prohibit the two offending students, Cobus Muller and Charl Blom, from being allowed to study at the university, and the alleged crime of assault and of trying to run over Muzi Gwebu with their vehicle, clearly poses no deterrent.
The ineffectualness of the SAHRC could not have been more clearly illustrated when a convicted perpetrator of hatespeech, Bongani Masusku, found guilty by the SAHRC in 2009, was found “moderating” a panel of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee in the Good Hope Chamber of Parliament on February 6.
His mere presence in the discussion would have been insulting enough to the victims of his hate-speech, but the respectability bestowed on him by this parliamentary committee raises insensitivity to new levels and merely makes a mockery of attempts to eliminate racism, hatred and intolerance in South Africa.
Bongani Masuku was investigated by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for a complaint of hate speech lodged by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) on March 26, 2009. The SAHRC ruled to uphold the complaint, finding that statements Bongani Masuku had made did amount to hate speech.
COSATU spokesperson Patrick Craven in a joint press release with the Palestinian Solidarity Committee said that the SAHRC erred in the hate speech ruling against COSATU’s Bongani Masuku and that “South Africa[ns] are shocked and appalled by the decision of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).”
Undermining the role of the SAHRC is the ruling party, the ANC, and its sycophantic followers, COSATU, the SA Communist Party and the ANC Youth League, when at events like the Third International Solidarity Conference of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress, which met in Pretoria, endorsed the call for a campaign of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) targeting Israel.
These denunciations, to the cheers of assembled delegates, have now become a regular feature of the ruling party.
They provide a convenient distraction from their inability to deal with problems closer to home and resonate with heaping blame on an imperialist power, perceived to be the cause of the suffering of hapless victims, the Palestinians, like themselves.
Masuku’s rhetoric is echoed by the likes of chairman of the ANC, Baleka Mbete, who said that she herself had visited “Palestine,” where she’d discovered that the situation is “far worse than apartheid South Africa,” and by Fatima Hajaig, the former deputy minister of foreign affairs, who claimed that “the control of America, just like the control of most Western countries, is in the hands of Jewish money, and if Jewish money controls their country then you cannot expect anything else.”
On February 26 the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation, (National Assembly), are set to meet to discuss the adoption of the now notorious committee report on the Solidarity Conference in support of Palestine, Cuba and Western Sahara, framed by the regular parade of anti-Jewish protagonists Bongani Masuku, Fatima Hajaig and Marius Fransman.
These resolutions call for Israel to be isolated from the family of nations, for its banking system to be “suspended from the world banking system” and for it to be criminalized by the International Court of Justice. What these high-level South Africans are calling for is the destruction of a legitimate state recognized by the United Nations, in flagrant violation of international law.
Under the guise of showing solidarity with the Palestinians, which they are more than entitled to do, they have deliberately ignored and assaulted the feelings and sensibilities of a loyal and hard-working segment of the South African population.
These cheap anti-Jewish tactics will forever sully the governing parties’ commitment to inter-racial and inter-community reconciliation, and its commitment to build a “rainbow nation.”
In the meantime the criminal Bongani Masuku is unrepentant and cosseted with the support of the ruling party!