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Open letter to the SAHRC: Racism complaint

6 December 2022

Racism is racism is racism, it should not be diminished or colour-coded depending upon who the miscreants.

Why is white racism given more prominence by the SAHRC than black racism?

I note with curiosity that the SAHRC is assessing the matter of Belinda Migor, the woman who made horrific racist remarks against our black compatriots in a Whatsapp voice note recently, with the intention of pursuing the matter further.

That is highly commendable.

Her despicable comments warrant severe censure and indeed legal action as they definitely constitute prima facie hate speech.

    What concerns me about this action by the SAHRC is that during the July 2021 unrest, especially in KZN, whereby many racist remarks were made by black citizens on public platforms against the Indian community that constituted both hate speech and an incitement to commit violence, the SAHRC remained silent.

Why hasn’t the SAHRC pursued these matters with as much verve and vigour as the Migor case?

Surely, the despicable nature of all postings should demand the same treatment in the pursuance of litigation, unless the aim is simply to assuage a particular race group which is in the majority.

Equal and fair justice under the law should be the fundamental precept upon which the SAHRC must act in all matters.

Racism is racism is racism, it should not be diminished or colour-coded depending upon who the miscreants.

In one july 2021 unrest racist comment made on a public platform, I had to prefer charges of hate speech and incitement to violence in the Equality court, as my patriotic obligation demanded, not only on my behalf and that of the Indian community but on behalf of all the law-abiding citizens who express equal revulsion against racism.

This came at great cost to myself.

Incidentally, I was a victim of the 2021 July unrest and was shot at, at virtually point-blank range, and my home was attacked in the middle of the night.

It was clearly a racist act, hence the need to ensure that those who perpetuate hate against fellow citizens must be brought to book.

I note with interest also that the EFF is making political capital on this matter, wanting to prefer charges against Migor, but conveniently forget that it too perpetuates racist remarks against the white and Indian communities.

I wonder if the SAHRC would consider an enjoinder and become an amicus curiae in the matter in which I am the applicant bringing a case of hate speech before the Equality court?

Narendh Ganesh
Durban North

The SAHRC responds

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC/Commission) notes the concerns of Mr Narendh Ganesh.

As a point of departure, the Commission wishes to express its sympathies to Mr Ganesh in that he was a victim of shooting as detailed in his letter.

We wish him a speedy recovery and express the hope that those responsible for this crime be brought to justice.

Ultimately it is our hope that Mr Ganesh and everyone in the community engage in the various efforts to bring peace, and lasting harmony.

Debate and constructive dialogue form a key part of a democratic society.

    As an institution that is a key component of democracy in South Africa, we promote robust dialogue with the aim of creating more diversity, and understanding in the country.

The Commission in this respect, provides several platforms for dialogue on such issues.

For example, in the aftermath of the July unrest, the Commission convened several stakeholder engagements to engage affected communities in KwaZulu-Natal.

In addition, the Commission convened its hearing into the unrest to investigate the unrest which took place in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng between November 2021 and July 2022.

Mr Ganesh did form part of some of these engagements. The Commission, however, will engage Mr Ganesh to air out any concerns he may have.

On the issue of racism, the Commission stresses that its handling of all complaints are guided by the Constitution, the South African Human Rights Commission Act, the SAHRC complaints handling procedures (which are available on the SAHRC website), and relevant legislation such as the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act.

In line with the above, the Commission notes that the goal of creating a society that is non-racist is central to all its work on racism.

As such, it is the position of the Commission that racist hate speech has no place in our society, regardless of who propagates it.

We deal with various and in our view too many complaints and cases against people from various communities and backgrounds in relation to hate speech events.

It seems though that some cases get more traction than others in the media.

The impression therefore is created that the SAHRC only concerns itself only with these high profile cases- this is a false impression.

The Commission has conducted a search of its records, and discovered that the particular complaint by Mr Ganesh has not been reported to the Commission.

The Commission cannot therefore engage on the contents thereof.

Source: The Witness

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