The Prevention of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill will most probably cause tension rather than prevent it. Especially in the hands of the ANC.
The arrest of the former Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan, for criticising the government should serve as a timely warning against the proposed law.
Khan’s arrest and the fact that a ban was placed on public speeches by the former cricket star demonstrate how a government can exploit a law like this to muzzle its critics.
Ultimately, it poses a serious threat to the right to freedom of association and speech.
When I expressed my concerns about the Bill during a committee discussion on 1 February, the Deputy Minister of Justice, John Jeffery, made it out to be racism.
His response was something along these lines: “Mr Mulder is apparently worried about his party’s supporters, who are probably mostly white Afrikaners, seeing as they are frequently involved in racist incidents.”
Such biased views demonstrate exactly why this Bill is dangerous and can easily be exploited. Particularly by the ANC. It may not realise.
In February this year, a state in India placed a ban on faith healing seeing as it supposedly pits different religions against each other.
The Hate Crimes Bill will make such interpretations possible, as is evident in the wording of the complaint against the evangelist Simeon Chetty from Durban who allegedly said that Jesus is greater than the Hindu god Krishna.
A biased interpretation viewed it as a position of Christian superiority over Hindus. The matter was settled outside of court.
The FF Plus does not agree that incidents of racialism are on the rise in the country. What is, however, on the rise are cases where politicians use hate speech for their own political gain.
Racial tension was driven to a head in 1994 when the ANC itself used hate and intolerance as weapons in its so-called “People’s war”.
Political murders were such a common occurrence that thousands did not even make the headlines.
The advent of social media these days contributes to the public’s awareness of almost every single interpersonal incident, which is most probably not even rooted in race, like poor service in a restaurant.
The ANC likes to create certain perceptions by exaggerating and manipulating information to suit its political agenda.
South Africa’s courts are already inundated with work. The problem is exacerbated by a lack of expert personnel throughout the entire criminal justice system.
This Bill does not bode well and will be impossible to enforce. It will cause racial tension instead of preventing it.
Read the original article in Afrikaans by Jaco Mulder on FF Plus