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FW de Klerk Foundation slams SAHRC for letting Malema 'off the hook'

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FW de Klerk Foundation slams SAHRC for letting Malema 'off the hook'

EFF leader Julius Malema

15th March 2019

By: News24Wire

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The South African Human Rights commission (SAHRC) has found that Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema's "white slaughter" comments do not amount to hate speech.

The SAHRC said hate speech in this particular case was determined by whether the speech uttered was a clear intention to incite harm.

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"Such incitement is not 'imminent' as per the language of section 16(2)(c) of the Constitution or foreseen at the time when the utterances are made.

"Moreover, viewed in its context, the statement deals with the subject matter of land dispossession and redistribution, and is not aimed at inciting harm to white people," the human rights body found.

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This complaint was laid by the FW de Klerk Foundation after Malema said he was "not calling for the slaughtering of white people, at least for now. What we are calling for is the peaceful occupation of land and we don't owe anyone an apology for that."

The EFF has since welcomed the ruling.

"It is a defeat of those who are trying to shut down an important conversation about the land because what Malema said was a very important comment for the country to unpack.

"The FW de Klerk Foundation is raising fears not of what black people have done but what they have done. They suffer the insecurities of their own actions," spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said on Friday. 

The foundation, however, has voiced its disapproval of the SAHRC's findings.

In a statement on Thursday, it noted the findings with "great concern" because they "brushed aside Malema's chilling implication" that he could at a later stage call for the slaughter of white people.

"His highly prejudicial version of history that 'white people' slaughtered peaceful Africans 'like animals' was clearly intended to sweep up racial hatred.

"His words, by his own admission, also constituted incitement to cause harm. Does the SAHRC really think that the illegal occupation of the land of white farmers could be achieved without causing them 'harm'?" the foundation's Dave Steward wrote.

The foundation said the utterance "at least for now" constitutes hate speech and advocates for "a genocide at a future date".

"One can hardly think of more volatile circumstances than those surrounding Malema's 2016 statement. 

'No consequences'

"It was made in the context of heightened racial tensions arising from the complex and vexatious question of land reform and farm murders; it was made to demonstrating EFF followers outside the court and was soon given national and international coverage. The speaker was the leader of the third-largest political party in the country," Steward added.

As a result of this finding, the foundation has questioned whether it is appropriate for the SAHRC to be allowed to continue to act as South Africa's UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination's agent.

It has further criticised the SAHRC for being part of a system that repeatedly lets Malema "off the hook".

"He has no doubt come to realise that there are no consequences for his unacceptable utterances. The public pressure is building up, however, especially in the run-up to the election and his comments about Karima Brown.

"The question is, how long will public bodies such as the SAHRC let him off the hook, time and again, and how long will he get away with his behaviour?" Steward asked.

The SAHRC wasn't immediately available for comment.

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