NEWS & ANALYSIS

SAHRC has long record of ignoring our complaints - Afrikanerbond

Jaco Schoeman says commission has yet to deal with a 2010 complaint against Julius Malema

CREDIBILITY, INTEGRITY, AND POLITICAL BIAS OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION AFTER REACTION TO THE AFRIKANERBOND’S OPEN LETTER MUST BE SERIOUSLY QUESTIONED

We took note of the reaction of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to the Open letter of the Afrikanerbond dated 13 December 2018, to President Ramaphosa.

The reaction of the SAHRC is in line with previous dismissive correspondence that we have received from the SAHRC, and that is why we are writing to President Ramaphosa. We have not yet had a reaction from the office of the President.

Much mention is made of the Trends and Analysis Report  that the SAHRC released on 13 December 2018, and the Afrikanerbond is being accused of not having read the report.

It is, however, necessary to make it abundantly clear that the SAHRC’s report is for the 2016/17 period. Therefore in some cases, the information is already two years old and to boast about this in December 2018 is alarming, to say the least. Our concern refers to the hate speech of the past year and the last few months. The SAHRC denies that it is biased, but refers 32 times to farm labourers and conditions on farms in the very same report of 90 pages — not once do they refer to the right to life of farm owners or labourers, or even to the severe and brutal cruelty of farm murders and farm attacks.

The SAHRC cannot use the number of complaints it receives as a barometer. In our experience, people simply no longer lodge complaints with the SAHRC because they have serious doubts about its credibility, integrity and political bias.

The SAHRC has already made giant strides in that it will be taking the BLF leader, Andile Mngxitama, to the Equality Court. It has long been our plea to the SAHRC to hold political and public leaders accountable. We cannot help but be cynical about its motives, since the Chief Executive Officer of the SAHRC personally fell victim to the violent behaviour of the BLF at the Gauteng office of the SAHRC.

The Human Rights Commission’s reaction against hate speech and racism remains doubtful. To date, various complaints against ANC members and public representatives have come to nothing. The complaints against Julius Malema that the Afrikanerbond lodged with the SAHRC in 2010 in particular deserves to be mentioned. The Human Rights Commission did indeed hold a public hearing on 28 November 2011, but it was postponed pending the judgment of the Equality Court and would then resume to make a ruling as well.

To date and despite various letters and appeals to the SAHRC, no finding has been made, and that has unfortunately set a precedent for public representatives to continue with irresponsible judgments. Complaints by the Afrikanerbond against former minister Lulu Xingwana and her vile remarks about white Calvinist Afrikaner men, as well as the statement made by the ANC member of parliament and Contralesa President, Chief Phathekile Holomisa, in September 2012 about reclaiming land from the white minority by the following year, were ignored by the Human Rights Commission.

In recent years, the Human Rights Commission has demonstrated that this particular constitutional institution is clearly incapable of discharging and enforcing its constitutional duties. In some cases, the Human Rights Commission is very quick to release statements with regard to rights that have been violated, but when it is politically risky, individuals can play havoc with the Human Rights Commission. It would appear that the Human Rights Commission, in a society that is supposed to be equal, holds some people’s rights in higher regard than those of others.

We have unfortunately lost confidence in the ability of this particular constitutional institution to properly monitor racism and hate speech and to act efficaciously against any transgressions that would violate human rights.

Political temperatures and feelings are already running high, and 2019 is an election year. The tinderbox does not need the spark of racism. We do, however, believe that there are many moderate South Africans who support the essence of nation building and would like to advance it. Divisive remarks, from white and black, must be rejected unequivocally. We wholeheartedly support the appeal of SAHRC Commissioner Chris Nissen in a News24 interview published on 21 December 2018 “that South Africans should respect each other”.

Particularly at this time, South Africa relies strongly on its constitutional institutions, and that is why the Afrikanerbond would like to enter into a conversation with the SAHRC as soon as possible to convey our concerns.

Statement by Jaco Schoeman, Chairperson of the Afrikanerbond, 23 December 2018