Congress for the People (Cope) has released a statement condemning “in the strongest terms” a tweet from Black First Land First (BLF) spokesperson Lindsay Maasdorp in the aftermath of the tragic collapse of a walkway at Hoërskool Driehoek in Vanderbijlpark, which led to the death of at least four youths.
Cope said they would be laying a charge of hate speech against the party at “the nearest police station”.
Maasdorp tweeted that a Facebook user who posted a comment on an SABC post covering the tragedy, saying he “doesn’t have the heart to feel pain” for the victims under the assumption they were all white, was “correct” in posting the comment.
Maasdorp’s tweet continued to say that he believed that the incident showed “God is responding”.
“Why should we frown on the ancestors’ petitions to punish the land thieves including their offspring,” he added in the tweet, which has since been deleted.
When asked for clarification, Maasdorp also said his party would “celebrate” if the victims were white but mourn if they were not.
According to Cope, Maasdorp’s utterances are “outright racist hate speech”, and the party’s “intent is to protect corrupters”, “foster social division”, and “drive our country into a civil war.”
“These kinds of reckless statements don’t belong in this country,” the party’s statement continues, adding that the party was among many South Africans who wanted to “build [an] SA for all where race doesn’t matter”, a “united, non-racial SA”.
The statement goes on to express the party’s condolences over the tragedy and their commitment to following the department of labour’s investigation into it closely.
The party joins the DA and Freedom Front Plus, who both recently announced their intention of taking the party to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for hate speech.
Two of the three school pupils who died when a concrete walkway collapsed at the Driehoek High School in Vanderbijlpark on Friday morning have been positively identified, and the labour department has taken over the school to conduct a structural assessment, said the Gauteng education department.
In an update on Saturday, the Gauteng education department, in collaboration with the disaster management team, confirmed that the death toll remained at three. “We want to also report that two of the deceased learners have been positively identified.”
Since then, another child has reportedly succumbed to injuries, raising the death toll to four.
According to available information, 20 pupils were still receiving medical attention at different hospitals. Police had confirmed that a parent of two pupils was involved in a car crash while driving to the school. She was rushed to a hospital for medical attention, and none of her children were affected or injured in the collapse. She was also still receiving medical attention at a local hospital.
An inquest case was being investigated by police regarding the circumstances surrounding the tragedy.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman. Additional reporting by ANA)