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DA upset human rights body won’t probe hate speech that ’glorifies farm murders’ on social media

Cape Town – DA state security spokesperson Dianne Kohler Barnard MP has taken exception to the fact that the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) will no longer investigate hate speech against farmers posted on social media.

Over the past month and a half, the DA has referred several social media posts, which seemingly glorify farm murders and attacks, to the commission to investigate them for hate speech.

But Kohler Barnard said on Tuesday the SAHRC has ’’rejected our complaints outright, indicating that these complaints be referred to the South African Police Service’’.

The commission said, for one, that it doesn’t have the capacity to trace the individuals in question. However, the DA intends to ’’explore its options to challenge the commission’s weak excuse to not investigate social media posts that glorify farm murders and attacks’’.

’’While the commission has agreed that the content is unacceptable and unlawful, it claims that it hasn’t the capacity to trace the individuals who post openly on social media. The commission also claims that it does not have jurisdiction over such speech,’’ Kohler Barnard said.

The DA believes the SAHRC’s decision is a direct contradiction to previous cases it has pursued.

’’The commission had the capacity previously to track and fine persons from widely publicised cases. In fact, the SAHRC has led numerous cases against hate speech, taking them through the Equality Court to completion. A criminal case was sometimes run concurrently.’’

Kohler Barnard said the DA knows of one instance where a person went to jail because “this matter involved a personal and direct infringement of the police officer’s dignity”.

’’It would seem, however, that to the SAHRC, racially fuelled posts encouraging South Africans to murder members of a family already prostrate with grief at the murder of their loved one does not qualify as an infringement on human dignity,“ she said.

’’These statements are often made directly after attacks and murders on a farming family. Yet somehow the SAHRC doesn’t see this as something they can or want to deal with.

’’The commission has no inclination to assist the survivors of rape and torture and being forced to watch their loved ones die when some South Africans cheer the rapists and murderers on.

’’In another weak justification of its refusal to investigate these hateful posts, the commission said that in the instances the DA reported, the comments were ’made broadly in reference to millions of people on the basis of their race’.

’’However, the SAHRC has taken action in similar cases, such as one where a man filmed himself on holiday using racist language. He was charged and fined for doing so.

’’There are a number of instances wherein the perpetrator made racist generalisations, and was heavily fined for doing so.

’’The commission then admits that it has a wide discretion whether to accept a complaint or represent an individual in the Equality Court. It has chosen not to represent the families of the murder victims who are farmers and farmworkers…

“The DA undertook, as part of our 16 action steps in terms of our Rural Security Strategy, to report what we believe to be hate speech, or hate crimes, to relevant authorities for investigation.

’’The SAHRC is the relevant authority and their refusal to investigate is as bad for the survival of our rural communities as is singing songs encouraging South Africans to kill them.’

’’We view these posts as abhorrent and those who post them must be held to account for their vitriolic and hateful utterances.

’’The senseless murder and torture of farming communities need to stop and those who glorify these acts must be punished.’’

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