Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development John Jeffery believes that while the Prevention and Elimination of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill is not the only method of combating racism, it goes a long way in punishing offenders.

He was speaking during a presentation of the bill at a hearing of the National Assembly’s Justice and Correctional Services Portfolio Commission.

“The government is not trying to solve racism in South Africa with this bill.” Racism is a complex problem. Before addressing the racial nature of poverty and power in South Africa, racism cannot be completely eradicated.

“As a government, we believed that racism and other intolerances required sanctions.

However, this is not meant to be the only solution; that’s just one of the variables,” he said.

The purpose of the bill is to establish the offenses of hate crime and hate speech, as well as the prosecution of those who commit these offences, and to provide appropriate penalties for those who commit hate crimes and hate speech offences.

Jeffery acknowledged that the bill has sparked public controversy, with some saying it restricts free speech.
“This is a controversial bill, and the hate speech clauses make it extremely divisive. I think the question is one of political choice: ‘Should we have speech limitations? or not?” Certain types of speech are already excluded from the protections of the right to free speech, as established by the Constitution. In addition, there is a clause that allows for more, “explained Jeffery.

The deputy minister noted that public comments on the bill demonstrated that “sufficient” mechanisms are already in place to address these issues.

“What we currently have is PEPUDA [Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act], but PEPUDA is a civil remedy. It is the responsibility of the aggrieved party to go to the Court of Equality as a plaintiff and pursue the case.

When a state criminalizes an act, it is usually responsible for investigating the alleged crime.
“We already have restrictions on expression as a type of criminal damage. However, the crimen injuria is illegal under common law. Therefore, [this measure] look for…

It is not intended to replace crimen injuria, but rather to clarify the law by creating a crime of hate speech. Criminal injuries… [about] what defines crimen injuria is surrounded by doubt. “The goal was to create a new hate speech offence,” he explained. – SAnews.gov.za

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