Law on racism needed because sorry simply not enough: deputy minister


Deputy Justice Minister John Jeffery

THE  level of hurt caused by racism has necessitated its criminalisation, Deputy Justice Minister John Jeffery said on Tuesday as the ministry confirmed it would bring specific legal provisions seeking to target hate speech to Parliament this year still.

“The outcry was showing that there was a lot of hurt with a lot of the comments being made and a feeling that a lot of the people were making racist statements and then simply saying ‘sorry’. It wasn’t enough,” Jeffery told ANA following a briefing by Justice Minister Michael Masutha ahead of his budget vote speech in Parliament.

The ministry at the beginning of the year signalled that it would add hate speech and racist behaviour to a draft bill on hate crimes. The decision followed an uproar over highly-publicised racist pronouncements, including that of Penny Sparrow, who called Africans “monkeys”. Up to this point, the equality courts have been left to handle hate speech as a civil matter with penalties limited to fines and apologies.

Jeffery said the ministry would seek public input on the measure before it went to Parliament, and once there, the legislature would again run its own process of inviting public submissions before it was finalised.

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