Hate speech ruling problematic - expert

2011-09-15 12:05
Johannesburg - The ruling banning the singing of "awudubule ibhunu" (shoot the boer) constituted an "absurd and drastic" infringement on freedom of speech, according to constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos.

In a column published in The Star on Thursday, De Vos criticises Judge Colin Lamont's ruling, saying it is based on racial stereotypes.

The judgment meant any person singing the song could be held in contempt of court, he writes.

"This, in my opinion, constitutes a rather absurd and drastic infringement on the right to freedom of expression not warranted by the Equality Act - even given the broad provisions of that act."

Racial lines

On Monday Lamont handed down his ruling on the complaint by AfriForum Youth, that ANC Youth League president Julius Malema's singing of the words at public gatherings constituted hate speech and threatened farmers.

Lamont declared the words "shoot the boer" and "shoot the boers, they rape" hate speech. He interdicted Malema and the ANC, which had joined proceedings, from singing them publicly or privately.

De Vos writes in the column, also published on his blog Constitutionally Speaking, that Lamont had divided society into a majority and a minority along racial lines.

"This rather essentialistic and simplistic division of South Africans into different race groups could be viewed as problematic."

The league announced on Wednesday it would appeal the ruling as far as the Constitutional Court, and would approach Parliament for legislation to protect songs considered part of the ANC's heritage.

De Vos says part of the problem with Lamont's ruling was that, in his opinion, the hate speech section of the Equality Act itself was too broad.

Read more on:    afriforum  |  ancyl  |  pierre de vos  |  julius malema  |  politics  |  racism  |  hate speech
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