John Steenhuisen's remarks racist and derogatory - SACP Gauteng

Party slams DA leader's remarks comparing Crime Wardens to drunks in a shebeen

SACP in Gauteng demands full investigation into allegations of racist and derogatory remarks by Democratic Alliance leader, John Steenhuisen

19 March 2024

The South African Communist Party (SACP) in Gauteng Province convened its first meeting of the 13th Provincial Congress Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) on Sunday, March 17, 2024, at the provincial headquarters in the Linda Jabane District, City of Johannesburg.

This session marked the first gathering subsequent to the successful 13th Provincial Congress held from March 1st to 3rd, 2024, during which a new PEC was elected. The PEC unanimously and by consensus appointed the Provincial Working Committee (PWC) and Sub-Committees, while also finalizing the deployment of PEC members to various Districts as part of its immediate lower organs.

The PEC conducted a comprehensive analysis of the international and domestic class balance of forces, examining both objective and subjective factors. Particular attention was given to the socioeconomic status of the working class and impoverished communities, alongside affirming the Party’s commitment to international solidarity with the people of Palestine, Cuba, Venezuela, Swaziland, and Western Sahara.

The PEC noted that the 13th Provincial Congress and the PEC meeting took place during Human Rights month, commemorating the brutal murder of the militant and revolutionary people of Sharpeville by the Apartheid regime in South Africa. PEC further noted that the Sharpeville massacre played a critical role in drawing international attention to the brutality of the Apartheid state and the crimes against humanity committed by the racist Apartheid regime.

It was in this context that the PEC resolved that, while the country celebrated 30 years since the defeat of Apartheid and racial tyranny, there are still acts and conduct that border on racism and the treatment of people as sub-humans. PEC noted that, despite the majority of people celebrating human rights culture and being firmly committed to building a democratic, united, and diverse nation, there were still elements in society perpetuating acts of barbarism and racial bigotry, thus treating constitutional democracy with contempt.

The PEC noted that just in January of this year, the leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA), Mr. John Steenhuisen, in an attempt to create hype around the DA election manifesto, launched a scathing, racist, and derogatory attack against members of the provincial Crime Prevention Wardens, a law enforcement capacity of the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG). In his highly charged racist and derogatory remarks as alleged, he is reported to have remarked:

“What did (Gauteng Premier) Panyaza Lesufi do? He took your tax money to buy ill-fitting Pep Stores uniforms for untrained cadres and pretended that they were ‘crime wardens’. What kind of person pulls a drunkard out of a shebeen, gives him a uniform and a weapon, and then unleashes them onto a community?”

The PEC assessed and analyzed these remarks and concluded that, while on the face of it the remarks appear racist and derogatory, it was crucial to subject these allegations to a due and proper process. In this regard, PEC resolved that these remarks be tested against the country’s constitution and applicable legislation by the most competent and mandated institutions. PEC further considered the undisputable fact that even when there was public uproar, including published media concerns by the victims, the DA leader, Mr. Steenhuisen, arrogantly refused to retract and possibly apologize.

It was further in this context that the PEC resolved to embark on the following program of action:

1. Open a criminal case of Crimen Injuria against DA Leader, John Steenhuisen, at the local police station in Soshanguve, City of Tshwane, where the remarks were allegedly made. The criminal case will be opened on Human Rights Day, March 21, 2024, at 12:00 PM.

2. Stage a picket at Constitutional Hill, City of Johannesburg, on Wednesday, March 27, 2024, at 10:00 AM, to highlight the plight of the victims of these remarks and to promote human rights culture.

During the picket and as part of its proceedings, formally lodge a complaint and memorandum of demands at Constitutional Hill, where relevant institutional representatives will be expected to physically receive the memorandum of demands, as follows:

1. SA Human Rights Commission: Investigation into human rights violations
2. Parliament: (Memo handed over to Gauteng Provincial Legislature) Investigation into the alleged breach and violation of the Parliamentary Code of Conduct of members of parliament as Mr. Steenhuisen is a Member of Parliament (MP)
3. Equality Court: As a Specialised Court, will be approached separately through its normal court processes to hear proceedings and adjudicate on Crimen Injuria, unfair discrimination, hate speech, and harassment allegedly by Mr. Steenhuisen.

The PEC reaffirmed its unwavering commitment to promoting the culture of human rights, especially the profound and fundamental right to dignity, to build a non-racial and non-sexist society that appreciates the decisiveness and power of diversity of the South African nation. These principles are precisely the building blocks and critical elements for building socialism in our country.

The PEC further reaffirmed its confidence in institutions, laws, and policies that seek to promote constitutional democracy, rule of law, and human rights culture.

Issued by SACP Gauteng Province, 19 March 2024