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Court rules that old flag constitutes hate speech


Judge President Phineas Mojapelo delivers judgment

Johannesburg – On Wednesday the Equality Court sitting in the Gauteng High court in Johannesburg ruled that badly intentioned public displays of the old South African flag, which is referred to as the “apartheid flag”, constitutes hate speech, harassment, and could be interpreted as an expression of white supremacy and severe racial prejudice.

  The Nelson Mandela Foundation and Human Rights Commission took the case to court against AfriForum over the display of the old South African flag.

  Judge Phineas Mojapelo said displaying the flag does much more than merely cause emotional pain and stress to black people, saying those who displayed the flag were consciously choosing oppression over liberation symbols, with the intent to incite and awaken white supremacist ideologies.

  Mojapelo added that the flag could be seen as a representative of apartheid, and remains divisive.

  “Its display could be seen as a message propagating hatred and hurtfulness and therefore constitutes hate speech. The display of the flag is an affront to humanity.”

  He added that the Constitutional Court has emphasised the importance of historical context when considering human dignity, especially the history of racialised inequality in South Africa, the denial of human dignity to black South Africans.

  He summarised some of the human rights violations during the apartheid era, which were enabled by discriminatory laws to entrench white minority rule and supremacy over the black majority, in what the United Nations condemned as a crime against humanity.