AfriForum against outright ban on 'gratuitous displays' of old SA flag

Kallie Kriel says while his organisation never uses it, NMF's proposal would damage freedom of speech

AfriForum against Mandela Foundation's attempt to ban 'gratuitous displays' of apartheid flag

1 March 2018

Johannesburg - AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel on Thursday said it did not agree with the Nelson Mandela Foundation's move to ban the old South African flag.

"As AfriForum, we do not use the old South African flag at any of our events. This would be a setback for freedom of speech and our democracy, if you start banning things, what is next?" he asked.

Kriel was responding to the foundation's statement that it had approached the Equality Court, asking that it rule that the display of the old apartheid South African flag is tantamount to hate speech.

In a statement, the foundation said "gratuitous displays" the old apartheid flag were unfair discrimination and harassment based on race.

"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.

"Displays of the old flag at demonstrations against farm murders on 'Black Monday', 30 October 2017, at least two of which were verified, persuaded us that the time had come to act."

'Crime against humanity'

Through public debates with AfriForum - one of the leading organisations in the "Black Monday" demonstrations - the foundation said it became apparent that some South Africans did not fully appreciate that apartheid was a crime against humanity and that gratuitous displays of apartheid symbols, such as the old flag, were a celebration of that crime and a humiliation of its victims.

"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 Mandela Foundation said the old flag was undeniably a part of the country's history.

"But that is where it belongs, in museums, documentaries and cathartic creative works."