SAHRC to take action against Malema over Mugabe tweets

Commission says these, on a prima facie basis, amount to hate speech under PEPUDA

Media Statement: SAHRC to Take Action on Politician’s Alleged Utterances

17 September 2019

The South African Human Rights Commission (the SAHRC or Commission) has on numerous occasions urged political leaders to recognise and take responsibility for the power they wield through their words.

At the same time, the Commission remains committed to promoting and protecting the right to freedom of expression. The right to free speech is protected as a basic human right, under section 16 of the Constitution. This right is, however, limited and hate speech is not protected under the right to freedom of expression.

The Commission is therefore deeply concerned by recent utterances attributed to Mr Julius Malema, a Member of Parliament and the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). 

The Commission is of the view that the social media utterances by Mr Malema around former President Robert Mugabe’s passing away, on a prima facie basis, amount to hate speech under section 10 of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA). The SAHRC condemns these racially divisive utterances, as they go against the non-racialist values upon which South Africa’s constitutional democracy is founded and will therefore refer the matter to the Equality Court.

Regarding the banning of certain media houses by Mr Malema and the EFF, the Commission will investigate the possible violation of the right to freedom of expression under section 16(1) of the Constitution.

Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission, 17 September 2019