By Hajira Khota
The amended Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and the Hate Speech Bill have been sent to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services for public discussion. The measure specifies what constitutes a hate crime and what constitutes hate speech. It also outlines the penalties that may be imposed on those who commit these crimes.
The move to review the Bill follows the recent judgement and definition of hate speech by the Constitutional Court. Concerned citizens are once again encouraged to download the template submission for organisations or individuals, use it “as is” or change it, and send it to Parliament.
Michael Swain spoke to Radio Islam International; “for the first time in South African history, this bill will criminalise certain forms of expressions”.
If this Bill passes, it will be easier to silence religious persons (due to the possibility of criminal penalties) or force them to surrender their religious convictions. As a result, one must reject the Bill to defend the fundamental right to religious liberty (including the freedom to share our religious beliefs).
The Bill also intends to build the offences of hate crime and hate speech, as well as the prosecution of those who commit them, provide for appropriate sentences that can be imposed on those who commit a hate crime and hate speech offences, provide for hate crime and hate speech prevention, and provide for reporting on the implementation, application, and administration of the law.
According to the Bill, a person commits a “hate crime” if they commit any recognised offence motivated by prejudice or discrimination. Prejudice directed at a victim’s family member or the victim’s involvement with or supports a group of people with similar qualities are examples of this.
In the instance of the first conviction for hate speech, the penalties include a fine or imprisonment for not more than three years. In a future conviction, the sentence might be increased to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years.
Swain says that it is essential for people to understand this Bill and its implications and make their voices heard.
The Bill is subject to public comment on Friday, October 1, 2021.