Johannesburg - A bill that will impose harsher punishment on hate crimes is under way and may be approved this financial year, Justice Minister Michael Masutha told journalists on Saturday. "The development of a bill to deal with hate crime is also underway to ensure that we have the necessary legal instruments to deal with this challenge", Masutha said. The bill also seeks to criminalise any conduct that amounts to an attempt, incitement, instigation and conspiracy among other.Action plan"In its current form, the bill proposes that hate crime should be understood as an offence committed solely on or of the fact or perceived fact of the victim's race, gender, nationality, ethnic or social origin, age, disability and religion."The department of justice has spearheaded development of a draft national action plan to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance..."Masutha said the bill will soon go through the approval process "to ensure that its passing is expedited and hopefully signed into law by the President during the current financial year."Masutha said he was hoping for more public comment on his other bill which will crimilise racist. The deadline for public comment had been extended till August 31, he said.He thanked the media for its coverage of racism.Racist statements"Recently we observed with sadness some of the ugly scenes and utterances that were reminiscent of the apartheid era. We're grateful that the media is able to bring these social intolerance upfront and reminding all of us that there is still work that needs to be done in transforming the country."Several people have been caught making racist statements online since January.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.