Almost 30 years since the end of South Africa’s apartheid regime, which separated people by the colour of their skin, lawmakers are still battling to find appropriate remedies to racism and other forms of prejudice that undermine our democracy.
In an effort to fight pervasive intolerance and racial discrimination in the country, the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill was introduced in Parliament four years ago, in April 2018.
The bill is before Parliament for public hearings, with several experts and organisations having their say as part of oral submissions.
Some pundits have labelled the bill unconstitutional in its current form, while others have argued that there are already sufficient existing laws to deal with hate.
The draft legislation threatens jail sentences for those who utter or spread hate speech – the definition of which has been vigorously debated civil society groups.
Will the bill help prevent racism, or will it make martyrs of the racists? Do we need this to fight the scourge of racism in our society, or is it draconian, turning people into criminals for what they say?
The webinar was be facilitated by broadcaster and author Iman Rapetti.
Rapetti was joined by Johannesburg-based attorney, Buang Jones, Advocate at the Johannesburg Bar, Mark Oppenheimer, Prof Christi van der Westhuizen, the co-editor of the Routledge International Handbook of Critical Studies in Whiteness and a researcher at Nelson Mandela University and Mbhazima Shilowa, former premier of Gauteng and former general secretary of Cosatu.