July 18, 2003

SOUTH AFRICA: „Kill the Boer“ chant is hate speech, says SAHCR

The slogan "kill the farmer, kill the boer" constitutes hate speech, the SA Human Rights Commission said yesterday, July 17, reversing its own earlier ruling that the use of the slogan was protected by the right to freedom of expression. The new ruling means anyone who uses the slogan will be open to legal action, according to commission chairman Jody Kollapen.

The ruling stemmed from a complaint by the Freedom Front (FF) about the use of the slogan at two public meetings in June last year, one of which was the funeral of African National Congress (ANC) MP Peter Mokaba. The Freedom Front appealed against the commission's initial finding. Commissioner Karthy Govender said that while freedom of expression was a fundamental right in a democracy, "our courts are clear that the freedom of expression is not a supreme right as in the US constitution".

Although the African National Congress (ANC) had made a submission on the issue, it had not apologised for the use of the slogan as demanded by the FF. "In a letter sent to the commission, the ANC questioned whether any political party can be held responsible for the unauthorised actions and utterances of people attending their rallies." It also referred to a speech in which President Thabo Mbeki said: "Nobody, whoever they are, has the right to call for the killing of farmers or boers."

While the ANC welcomed the ruling, its youth league president, Malusi Gigaba, said it was "dishonest and mischievous" to attach a political meaning to a slogan that was used in a cultural and historic context. (Business Day, Johannesburg)

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