Plans to criminally charge racists - Masutha

2016-07-01 21:15
Justice Minister Michael Masutha. (Stefan Heunis, AFP, file)

Justice Minister Michael Masutha. (Stefan Heunis, AFP, file)

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Pretoria - Racists could soon find themselves behind bars for their behaviour and utterances, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha said on Friday.

“We are hoping that by September we should be ready to approach Parliament with a concrete proposal on the table that will begin to criminalise racism,” he said.

He hoped there would be political support for it.

“It would come in the form of either a direct Racist Act or racism as an aggravating factor to other forms of criminality,” he added.

Since January, several people have been caught making racist statements online.

Former estate agent Penny Sparrow was ordered to pay a R150 000 fine by the Equality Court for her Facebook post comparing black beachgoers in Durban on New Year’s day to monkeys.

Masutha said racism was not unique to South Africa.

“We are not unique in the world, but we have a unique history. The scourge of racism and even sexism still characterises human relations across the world. If we can defeat racism here in South Africa, we will be sending a message that would light a candle that can be shared throughout the world,” he said.

National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams said criminalising racism would not be easy. However, they viewed it in a serious light and were deeply concerned about the recent spate of racist activities.

“It's clearly the result of an intolerable nation and people need to learn to be more tolerant of each other. Each person needs to do a great deal of self-reflection. We need to look deep into ourselves as people and treat the next person the way we want to be treated,” he said.

Abrahams said each case should be evaluated on its own merits.

Read more on:    michael masutha  |  racism
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