Hoërskool Driehoek tragedy: SAHRC, Solidarity take on BLF spokesperson for 'insensitive comments'

2019-02-05 18:54

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says it is appalled by comments on social media which Black First Land First (BLF) spokesperson Lindsay Maasdorp and others made in the wake of the Hoërskool Driehoek tragedy.

Four children died when a concrete slab above a corridor, linking two blocks of buildings at the school, came crashing down on Friday. Multiple others remain hospitalised.

The commission said it received approximately 80 complaints by midday on Tuesday regarding comments made on social media.

They said they would approach the Equality Court for relief on utterances Maasdorp made and would assess each complaint on its merits before deciding on a course of action. 

Maasdorp responded to a post by Facebook user Siyanda Gumede in which he said he was unmoved by the pupils' deaths as they would eliminate "3 future problems" from the world.

According to the BLF spokesperson, Gumede was "correct" in posting the comment, saying "God is responding".

"Why should we frown on the ancestors' petitions to punish the land thieves including their offspring," he added. 

The post was met with outrage and people said Gumede and Maasdorp assumed the pupils were white. 

SAHRC spokesperson Gail Smith said the comments were "insensitive, offensive, and inappropriate and do not align with the ideals and aspirations of our constitutional democracy". 

READ: Hoërskool Driehoek pupils open up to counsellors, matric teaching to resume

She continued: "Grief cuts across race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nation and culture."

At the same time, Solidarity said it has instructed its lawyers to draft a court application against Maasdorp.

Anton van der Bijl, Solidarity's head of Labour Law Services, said they had a threefold legal strategy that included a charge of crimen injuria against Maasdorp and a charge under the Equality Act.

"Maasdorp committed a criminal offence and we believe it deserves a heavy penalty," Van der Bijl said.

"We will also review the complaint we had filed against the BLF with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) last year in the light of recent events.

"A party that makes itself culpable of racism should not be allowed to participate in the democratic process and we will also argue it as such before the IEC," added Van der Bijl. 

The commission further conveyed condolences to grieving parents. 

On Tuesday, funeral arrangements for three of the four pupils were announced by the Gauteng education department.

The department also confirmed that Grade 12 pupils would resume their classes on Wednesday, Grade 11s on Thursday and other grades from Monday.

Read more on:    solidarity  |  hoerskool driehoek  |  blf  |  sahrc
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