The era preceding 1994 in South Africa is one that evokes painful memories for the races that were oppressed by the white minority. The apartheid era was an atrocious one, and it left a divided nation that is steal trying to heal under the concept of the "Rainbow Nation".
For the oppressed, it is something that must not be brought to life again. Or maybe it is alive already. The Nelson Mandela Foundation has asked the courts to ban "gratuitous displays" of the apartheid-era South African flag. The Foundation approached the Equality Court in Johannesburg arguing that the public display of the flag amounts to hate speech, unfair discrimination and harassment.
They said that the flag was a celebration of the crimes against humanity committed by the white minority against millions of South Africans. ''The decision to launch this application comes after years of watching public displays of the old flag and hoping that such behaviour would stop. These displays demonstrably compound the pain experienced by millions of black South Africans who suffered under apartheid and continue to struggle under its legacy,'' the NMF said in a statement.
In the statement, the NMF said that they were prompted to action following the public displays of the flag during last year's Black Monday protests in the country. The protests were against white farm murders. During debates following the march, the foundation said, it became clear "some South Africans do not fully appreciate that apartheid was a crime against humanity... and that gratuitous displays of apartheid symbols, such as the old flag, are a celebration of that crime and a humiliation of its victims".
AfriForum, the group that focuses on the rights of the South African Afrikaans population, said that they understood the flag "offends some people". Some have argued that the banning of the flag would be an infringement of their freedom of expression. AfriForum said that the flag must not be banned since it was part of history.
''During these debates AfriForum conceded that displaying the old flag was ''unwise'' as it ''offends some people'', but argued that it should nevertheless not be ''unlawful'' as it was a part of history and ''you cannot ban history," the NMF said in their statement.
The flag was the national symbol of South Africa between 1928 and 1994, after which it was replaced by a new one as the country entered a democratic dispensation. Some sections of the white right-wing community use it as a symbol of patrimony. It was based on the Dutch Prince's flag , and included smaller flags of the Orange Free State, South African Republic and the British Union Jack - all reminders of the country's colonial past.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation said that they are not calling for a total and absolute wipeout of the flag from history. ''The old flag is undeniably a part of our history, but it belongs in museums, documentaries and cathartic creative works.''