Following the racial attacks that have plagued South Africa since the beginning of the year, on the 15th January, the FW de Klerk Foundation decided to sue social media users (Blacks in particular) for racism. This was quite a surprise following the fact that the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) explicitly stated that it would deal effectively with racist remarks that cause harm and infringe the rights of citizens.
The 45 social media users that were charged with racism were tagged on social media (Facebook and Twitter) with a document carrying their names, as offenders. The foundation, requested the SAHRC to investigate whether the posts made by the users constituted as hate speech in terms of section 16 of the Constitution and Section 10 of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA). Furthermore, the foundation asked the SAHRC to use its powers to take the needed steps in securing proper redress where human rights have been violated.
The reason for this action according to the foundation is that it has observed an analysis on Facebook showing expressions of “dangerous racism”. The Foundation stated that most media commentators viewed Penny Sparrow’s comments, Chris Hart’s controversial and Gareth Cliff’s defence to Sparrow as evidence of racism.
“However, an analysis of Facebook and Twitter messages shows that by far the most virulent and dangerous racism – expressed in the most extreme and violent language – has come from disaffected black South Africans,” the foundation said.
“The messages are replete with threats to kill all whites – including children, to rape white women or to expel all whites from South Africa,” the foundation added.
Reverse racism does not exist:
In response to the foundation, the SAHRC, stated that it does not recognise the concept of reverse racism.
“We do not recognise the concept of ‘reverse racism’ as that would presuppose that there are different kinds or categories of racism. Racism is racism, irrespective of the colour of the victim or perpetrator. If a black person only leases his/her rental apartments to other black persons, such a person would be guilty of racism,” the SAHRC explained.
Public Protector, Adv. Thuli Madonsela also took the opportunity to state that racism, racial discrimination, and hate speech are wrong and unlawful regardless of perpetrator’s colour – be it white or black. And also, nobody is born racist. Like all bigotry, racism is learned through socialization and can be unlearned. However, liberation hero, Steve Biko would disagree with Madonsela’s views. In his book, I write what I like Biko explicitly explains that:
“Those who know, define racism as discrimination by a group against another for the purposes of subjugation or maintaining subjugation. In other words, one cannot be a racist unless he has the power to subjugate.”
According to the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), South Africans are in a state of readiness to fight because they are under increasing strain – the economy is weak, and the rate of unemployment is very high, and young black South Africans are suffering most.
The Congress of South African Trade Union (Cosatu) national spokesperson, Sizwe Pamla, stated that workers and domestic workers as well as farm workers in particular are experiencing racial insults every day in their workplaces.
“The fact is that racism is not dead in South Africa and the sooner we realise that the better prepared we will be prepared, as a country to deal with it in a more comprehensive, coherent and decisive manner,” Pamla stated.
Pamla further explained that what allows he white racists to have the arrogance and audacity to publicly use such incendiary language, to vent their racial prejudices is the stranglehold that they still have over our economy. This is because the economic and ownership patterns have not changed since 1994.
“While they are still having their gardens cared for by exploited black people, dine in restaurants, where they are served by poorly paid black waiters and leave their kids with their poorly paid nannies, white people will continue with their racist tendencies,” Pamla said.
The current solution that black South Africans are proposing as a way of defeating racism, is for black people to get back their land as well as benefit from the country’s wealth.