Racism in SA must be stopped - ministers

2016-05-12 16:45
Michael Masutha (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Michael Masutha (Tammy Petersen, News24)

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Cape Town - Recent racist outbursts were unravelling what South Africa had achieved in its 22 years of democracy and could tear races apart, two Cabinet ministers and ANC veterans warned on Thursday.

"What is it that has sparked this kind of attitude in South Africa?" Acting Minister in the Presidency Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula asked at a post-Cabinet meeting briefing in Cape Town.

"It's not as though there is ignorance. It is because there are people who have decided that, in spite of everything in South Africa, they will simply continue because there is nothing stopping them," she said.

For this reason, Justice Minister Michael Masutha had proposed that new anti-racism and hate speech laws be drawn up.

"For me, it is a matter that is deep down in a person's heart and whether there is commitment by an individual to promote non-racism, non-sexism in South Africa and promote the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution adopted in 1996."

Her remarks came after High Court Judge Mabel Jansen was placed on special leave following Facebook posts made a year ago. She said black men raped because it was pleasurable and mothers and grandmothers allowed it to happen to children as part of the paternal figure's birth right.

Jansen told News24 her comments were made in the context of the many rape cases she had presided over.

The Judicial Service Commission has been asked to investigate her conduct.

The Jansen scandal followed a year of other racist outbursts on social media, starting with one by KwaZulu-Natal estate agent Penny Sparrow, who called black beachgoers "monkeys".

Last week, Capetonian Matthew Theunissen vented about Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula's sporting quota decision.

"So no more sporting events for South Africa… I’ve never been more proud to say that our government are a bunch of KAFFIRS… yes I said it so go fuck yourselves you black fucking cunts (sic)," he wrote on Facebook. He apologised.

Legislation needed

Mapisa-Nqakula said what made Jansen's comments "more disgusting" was that judges were seen to be beyond reproach. She was horrified by the thought that Jansen could well have found a place on the Constitutional Court bench.

While government felt penalties were the correct route to go, in the meantime the least they could do was to challenge the statements, she said.

Deputy Public Service Minister Ayanda Dlodlo described racism as an assault on people who had already endured hate and decades of violence. She warned that the more people were assaulted in this way, the greater the chance of retaliation.

"If we don't create legislation, we will find a situation where it escalates beyond where it is today and it becomes serious racial tension, something we do not want to see."

Several courts had recently handed down judgments in racism cases.

Andre van Deventer, who was convicted last February of assaulting and calling his ex-girlfriend’s domestic worker a "kaffir", was sentenced to two years of house arrest and 70 hours of community work in the service of black women.

He violated his parole conditions and was sent to Pollsmoor Prison for two years instead.

He had assaulted Gloria Kente, 50, and spat in her face at the home he shared with his then girlfriend, in Table View, Cape Town, in 2013.

Read more on:    anc  |  nosiviwe mapisa-nqakula  |  cape town  |  racism

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