SAPRA appeals SAHRC referral of hate speech complaints

SAPRA herewith lodges formal objection against the February 2013 decision by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC)  to refer a complaint, lodged by the Director on behalf of the South African Pagan Rights Alliance on 22 February 2010 against public utterances of prejudicial hate speech by Ms. P. Maseko, to the South African Law Reform Commission and the CRL Rights Commission.


Reasons for objection

A. Institutional bias

The decision of the SAHRC not to pursue said complaint on the grounds that complaints of a religious nature (especially affecting issues related to witchcraft) do not fall within the SAHRC’s jurisdiction, contradicts two more recent decisions by the SAHRC with regard specifically to investigating cases of religious discrimination.

i. The SAHRC recently declared the contents of a book called “Die Raadsplan” published by Living Hope Ministries as hate speech – according to news reports “the commission’s view was that the right to freedom of expression did not extend to advocacy of hatred based on race, and that constituted incitement to cause harm”.

ii. The SAHRC recently announced its intention to act against Western Cape Pastor Oscar Bougardt in the Equality Court for utterances of hate speech against homosexuals – according to reports “The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has confirmed that homophobic Western Cape Pastor Oscar Bougardt will finally answer to hate speech charges in court.”

According to both the Bill of Rights and the Equality Act, the right to freedom of expression also does not extend to prejudice based on ‘belief’, especially where accusations of witchcraft (which remain illegal under existing legislation) have been proven repeatedly to constitute incitement to violent witch-hunts.

The SAHRC’s repeated refusal to deal with numerous complaints lodged by this Alliance, all dealing with either hate speech against Witches, or violence against suspected or alleged “witches”, constitutes clear and verifiable evidence of entrenched institutional bias by the SAHRC against a) the subject of Witchcraft, b) South African citizens who identify as Witches who seek redress for incidents of public libel, and c) victims of witch-hunts who have been falsely accused of being Witches or of practicing Witchcraft.

B. Prior knowledge

The reasons provided by the respondent to complaints lodged against her by this Alliance presume the following:

i. that the respondent’s use of her mother tongue in which to make public accusations against witches – that Witches are heartless murderers who engage in human mutilations – excuses her untested and unprovable allegations against Witches in South Africa.

ii. that making accusations of witchcraft constitutes a crime only when such allegations are made in English.

This Alliance will argue that a) it is reasonable and correct to presume instead that the Witchcraft Suppression Act makes accusations of witchcraft illegal, irrespective of which language such accusations are made in, and b) the respondent knew that making such allegations publicly in her own language constituted a crime in terms of Act 3, but attempted to shift blame for said utterances onto journalists instead, and c) that the respondent repeatedly made prejudicial accusations against witches despite having been in personal possession of evidence that refuted her allegations.


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