The draft bill is to be tabled in Parliament for debate this year and the Justice Minister Michael Masutha said the department was also trying to expand the draft to include other provisions dealing with hate speech as an offence.
Speaking on South Africa Human Rights Commission’s two-day conference in Johannesburg, Masutha said the bill would be subjected to a broad consultative process before it was submitted to Parliament for consideration.
The minister is optimistic that the bill will be tabled “around August, September this year”. He called on the conference to address difficulties faced by many in accessing information on their rights and the recourse to follow when those rights were violated.
“We must build communities and societies in which all persons are accepted and respected, irrespective of their race and gender,” the minister said.
Prio to Masutha’s speech, DA’s federal chairman Athol Trollip reprimanded a “racist attack” in which a black pizza delivery man on a motorbike was “intentionally knocked down” by a white bakkie-driving motorist in Port Elizabeth recently.
Trollip said the south African community would not condone any act of discriminatory and hateful behavior and that responsible for this must be criminally investigated, given the video proof that clearly shows the premeditated attack taking place.
“We need unwavering commitment to redress from every South African; a deliberate and conscious effort to work together to right the wrongs of our past. We have to do this together, without exception, otherwise we will struggle to shake off the shackles of our dark history.” He said as he promised to open a case with the police against the suspect.
Earlier on the same event, the National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete said there was no country that was free of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, hate speech and other related intolerance but the case need not to be fueled. She therefore urged that the nation should look forward by talking about the confronting issues rather than looking back to the past.
There has been a tremendous increase in the spread of racism and hate speech in the country and the government and various organizations in the country are fighting it hard to curb it.
The government has since been grappling with the scourge of racism after it erupted on social media this year, when KwaZulu-Natal estate agent Penny Sparrow called black beachgoers “monkeys”. She was dismissed from the DA for bringing the party into disrepute.
Mbete further noted that the question of racism needed to invariably remain on the public agenda “so all of us can engage with it… in Parliament, workplaces, the media, churches and mosques, universities and schools, so we guard this country against any form of division”.
The delegates were therefore appealed to insist that the economic growth trajectory de-racialize the economy as a step in changing the ownership patterns of the past which has to include “the acceleration of the allocation of land. Unless we do so, reconciliation will be shallow and a dream deferred,” Mbete warned.