Christian hate speech and defamation: Witchcamp 2018
Any discussion on or about religion in South Africa must begin with an acknowledgement of an absolute rule – all religions are to be regarded as equal before the law!
This Constitutional rule was most recently reiterated in 2017, when the South Gauteng High Court ruled in favour of the Organisation for Religious Education and Democracy (OGOD), against six public schools accused of promoting a single faith – Christianity – in religious education classes.
Handing down judgment, Judge Willem van der Linde quoted Section 15 of the Constitution.
“15. Freedom of religion, belief and opinion.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion.
(2) Religious observances may be conducted at state or state-aided institutions, provided that-
(a) those observances follow rules made by the appropriate public authorities;
(b) they are conducted on an equitable basis; and
(c) attendance at them is free and voluntary.”
Van der Linde J. added “…we have however also found at the level of principle that neither a school governing body nor a public school may lawfully hold out that it subscribes to only a single particular religion to the exclusion of others.”
Van der Linde ruled “In the circumstances, we issue the following order:
(a) It is declared that it offends Section 7 of the Schools Act, 84 of 1996 for a public school –
(i) To promote or allow its staff to promote that it as a public school adheres to only one, or predominantly only one, religion to the exclusion of others; and
(ii) To hold out that it promotes the interests of any one religion in favour of others.”
Although van der Linde’s judgement dealt with religious education in public schools, this case served once again to confirm the first rule of engagement with regard to religion, a rule which has been articulated by the Constitutional Court many times; that all faiths must be treated equally, and that followers of no single religion may discriminate against, or exclude with intent to discriminate against, followers of any other religion!
In the context of a broader society still largely dominated by one faith, Christianity, this confirmation confirms again that minority religions must be treated equally, and that members of these religions must be afforded equal opportunity to practice their faiths, without discrimination.
In paragraphs 23 and 24 of the OGOD judgement, van der Linde clarified the requirement for equity with regard to religion, by quoting O’Regan J. in S v Lawrence , S v Negal ; S v Solberg.
“The requirement of equity in the conception of freedom of religion as expressed in the interim Constitution is a rejection of our history, in which Christianity was given favoured status by government in many areas of life regardless of the wide range of religions observed in our society. Sachs J. in his judgment in this case has provided a valuable account of the ways in which Christian principles were endorsed by legislation and its practices often imposed upon all South Africans regardless of their beliefs (see paras —). The explicit endorsement of one religion over others would not be permitted in our new constitutional order. It would not be permitted, first, because it would result in the indirect coercion that Black J. adverted to in Engel v Vitale; and, secondly, because such public endorsement of one religion over another is in itself a threat to the free exercise of religion, particularly in a society in which there is a wide diversity of religions. Accordingly, it is not sufficient for us to be satisfied in a particular case that there is no direct coercion of religious belief. We will also have to be satisfied that there has been no inequitable or unfair preference of one religion over others. “
In this context then, we must review and judge a recent incident of particular importance to Pagans in South Africa.
In October 2018, an identified group of Randfontein Christians actively opposed an advertised Pagan event – Witchcamp 2018, by promoting hate speech and blood libel against the organisers and participants on social media.
This hostile call to arms, published on Facebook and shared many times amongst followers, has been included below as reference material.
Subsequent complaints by members of this group to the South African Police Services, including accusations of planned “Satanic” human sacrifices by attendees, directly led to the event being cancelled, resulting in both financial and reputational damage to the organisers.
A copy of the e-mail by Brigadier Johan Kruger, received by organisers Leanne Middleton and Moira Chalklen, reads:
The Event Organizer
APPLICATION FOR EVENT RISK CATEGORIZATION: WITCHCAMP 2018 ON 2018-11-03-04 AT 82 ROBSON ROAD, HILLSIDE, RANDFONTEIN, WEST RAND
Your application submitted to this office on 2018-10-30 in this regard refers. Please note that due to the late application submission, this office will not categorize this event (please note that all short notice events need to be submitted 20 working days prior to the event as to ensure compliance to the Act) Threats indicated by yourself would lead to the event beeing categorized as a medium risk event and an authorized officer appointed. In line with the Safety and Security at Recreational Events Act, Act 2 of 2010, medium risk events require the establishment of an Event Safety and Security Planning Committee (ESSPC) to deal with the Security related issues of the event.This said, the short notice of this application will not allow sufficient time frames to call the ESSPC meetings, prior to your event date, to properly plan and secure the safety of all concerned.Your assistance will be appreciated.
Brigadier Johan Kruger
Provincial Operational Command Centre
SA Police Service
The actions by Christian activists, including Andries Steyn (Apostolic Voice to the Nations Ministry), and Wiekus de Beer, in actively opposing a lawful religious Pagan event on private property, must be condemned for what it is – unconstitutional and unlawful religious intolerance and discrimination, amounting to defamation and hate speech.
Defamation is defined as “any unlawful, intentional false communication, either written or spoken, that harms a person’s reputation; decreases the respect, regard, or confidence in which a person is held; or induces disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against a person.” 
Hate speech is defined in Section 16 (2) of the Constitution as “any expression that:
(a) propagates for war;
(b) incites others to violence; or
(c) advocates hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.” 
The freedom to express an opinion, under South African law, is not unlimited. The right to hold opinions and to impart and receive ideas and information, is a protected but limited right in South Africa. The right to expression is limited, in order to protect the rights to equality and dignity of others. The right to freedom of expression must be exercised responsibly, without infringing on other rights, such as the rights to dignity and equality.
Steyn and de Beer have deliberately and with malice, infringed on the rights to dignity and equality of Pagans in South Africa, and specifically, of the organisers and participants of Witchcamp.
SAPRA finds sufficient grounds for legal action against both parties, and we recommend that Middleton and Chalklen approach the Equality Court for restitution.
Hate speech and blood libel by Wiekus de Beer
October 31 at 11:13 AM
“Some things about the witchcamp
1. First time in South Africa
2. Revive religion of paganism
3. There are no good witches. Witchcraft comes from satan.
4. Claim to worship(respect) nature to recruit people. Rom 1:22-32 explains what the future holds for those who practice this worship. Man may not bow(worship) before creation, we worship the Creator
5. They say THEY DO NOT BELIEVE IN SATAN but worship Lucifer as the light bearer (2 Cor 11:14) who want to enlighten mankind Is 14:12 explains the fall of Lucifer as satan.
6. Learn to cast spells.”to the good of humanity” Eventually manupilate people
7. Do not believe in sin (no accountability before God)You can do anything as long as you do not harm, but manipulation through spells is harming people
8. Use the same symbols as satanism.
9. They have eight sabbaths( festivals) per year.
10. Falsly claim to be the oldest religion. False. Started in 1884 with Gerald Gardener. Launched in the USA in 1974.
11. Claiming to be an expression of individual religion (humanism).
12. Testomonies of those who left, testify how they were deceived and how the dark side (demonic activity) were eventually reveiled to them.
13. Free sex outside of marriage
14. Wikkems belive they are gods unto themselves Gen 3:5 explains that this was satan’s first lie he said to Eve that they will be like God
15. They practice sorcery, and cast spells to enforce their own will on other people. Read Deut 18:10-12
16. They are under the control of deceiving spirits, some even claim to be christian witches! There is no witchcraft in christianity.
17. In the modern age, they want to take us 1000 years back to midevil ages
Children of God, we are to take action: We need to be vocal that we do not want this in Randfontein
1. We have to expose the darkness When we see this we need to expose it by teaching the truth and also need to come together in prayer
2. 1 Pet 5:8 We need to resist satan and stand firm in faith
3. Ef 6:18 Pray in the Spirit Prayer is our offensive weapon.
4. When Christians take a step back, the devil take a step forward, claiming the lost ground we left open.
Stand firm as God’s children and his people . Do not give satan the opportunity to take one inch of ground from what God gave us.” (sic)
On the morning of 3 November, following the cancellation of Witchcamp 2018, Wiekus de Beer wrote on Facebook:
“Aktiewe geloof word bewys wanneer kinders van die Almagtige God begin optree en die Liggaam van Christus as ‘n eenheid saamstaan teen die planne van die bose. Die afgelope twee weke was ‘n duidelike bewys hoeveel mag ons werklik in Jesus het. Met die bewus wording van ‘n hekse kamp wat in ons dorp gehou sou word, is die oproep tot gebed uitgestuur. Soos ‘n weghol veldbrand het die nuus versprei. Gelowiges regdeur die land het bidure gereël, hande geneem en saamgestaan. Ons Koning het die bevel gegee en infanterie(voetsoldate) is uitgestuur om sigbaar in die slagveld op te tree terwyl artillerie (kanonne) van ver en uit verskillende windrigtings hulle gebede soos bomme op die adres laat reën. Die instruksie was duidelik vanuit die Woord gegee: Dit is God se geveg, doen ‘n Jerigo mars en eis grondgebied terug. Moet glad nie die vyand fisies aanraak nie en bly binne die reëls van die geveg.
Ons bid, ons stap, ons roep na mekaar en ons Koning ; al meer intens en dringend – die kamp is die naweek – die fokus is siele wat kan verlore gaan – ons word op sosiale media gespot – die vyand poog om ons eie wapens (die Woord) teen ons te gebruik – al meer dringend en toe….. Vrydag kom die boodskap deur dat die stryd gewen is! Die witches kamp is gekanselleer 24 uur voor dit sou begin! Ons Hemelse Vader het ingetree en gewen. Die eer kom ons nie toe, die oorwinning is God sin.
Die Vader het gewys dit is moontlik as ons getrou is. Wat verder?…. Daar is ‘n land wat ten gronde gaan,….”. (sic)