The intended Hate Crimes Bill, which seeks to make racism and other forms of discrimination a crime, is due to go out for public comment soon, Deputy Justice Minister John Jeffery has said.
“We have been working on that bill, which was very close to being brought out for public comment at the beginning of this year,” Jeffery said at a dialogue in Johannesburg on criminalising racism.
He explained that the delay was due to the provision in it around hate speech and other “issues that need to be looked at”.
“Then the plethora of racial incidents happened on social media [including Penny Sparrow] … We then felt, and this would be particularly the justice ministry, that people seemed to think they could just say, ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I’m not racist, I have got black friends’ and get away with it.
“It was there government decided to look into criminalising hate speech.
“Other countries have also done that, so we are not unique in that,” Jeffery said.
The minister added: “So, the bill has been delayed a bit by the provision on creating an offence of hate speech … The bill will be out soon for public comment. It is the hate speech offence that has delayed things, and there are still issues that need to be looked at.”
The bill had been worked on prior to the racial outburst experienced this year following pressure from civil society, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organisations, and the Jewish Board of Deputies.