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SAHRC finds no fault in "women murder" complaint

Media Statement

ATTENTION: Editors and Reporters

28 July 2014

The South African Human Rights Commission has found no violations in the complaint by musician Steve Hofmeyr, the Freedom Front Plus, and others over statements made arising from a research report on the murder of women in South Africa.

The Commission received about 23 complaints following a research report calling on several academics participating in the research to apologise for their statements regarding femicide in South Africa. The complainant to the Commission was that the academics in question had made statements indicating that South African women had a greater chance of being murdered by their lovers or partners than a black man and that the comments were tantamount to hate speech.

In the articles, journalist Nechama Brodie and researcher Lisa Vetten, both employed by the website Africa Check, and Professor Naeema Abrahams of the Medical Research Council(MRC), quoted a study published by MRC of female homicide in South Africa which provided statistics indicating that the majority of white South African women killed in 2009 and 1999 were killed by their intimate partners.
“A White woman has a better chance of being murdered by her lover or partner than by an unknown Black man. We should not overlook the real problem,” wrote Ms Brodie in a newspaper on the 29th June 2013.
“Claims that white women are likely to be murdered by “unknown black males” amount to racial scare-mongering. The vast majority of women who are murdered in South Africa die at the hands of their husbands, boyfriends and lovers,” added Ms Vetten on July 17th, 2013.

The Commission considered relevant legislation, jurisprudence of the Courts, the context of the comments, the specific statement complained of, the methodology regarding independence of the content of the research and the contextual background thereof, and was unable to classify the type of speech complained of as hate speech or comment which warrants restrain or censure.

The Commission therefore finds that the statement that white women are more likely to be killed by their intimate partners in South Africa does not constitute hate speech and racial discrimination but is protected expression in terms of the Constitution and South African law.

The Commission views the comments by Professor Naeema Abrahams, Ms Nechama Brodie and Ms Lisa Vetten as falling in line with Section 16 of the Constitution which provides for Freedom of Expression, and in particular, Section 16(1)(a) for freedom of the press and other media, (b) freedom to receive or impart information or ideas and more especially (d) academic freedom and freedom of scientific research of the Constitution.


Issued by the SA Human Rights Commission
Isaac Mangena
071 884 8273

For comments email info@sahrc.org.za [Back]

- See more at: http://www.justice.gov.za/legislation/constitution/index.html#sthash.vQme5ODl.dpuf

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