New hate speech test case

A test case to determine what constitutes hate speech on social media – by both the original author and those reacting to the post – is being brought to court by the South African Human Rights Commission.

The case, against Afrikaans musician Sunette Bridges for racism and hate speech, will be heard at the Equality Court in the Western Cape today.

Bridges, who has never reached the heights of her famous singing father Bles, describes herself on her website and Facebook page as an Afrikaner, artist, writer and human rights activist.

But the SAHRC said yesterday it had decided to act – accusing her of commentary constituting hate speech under the Equality Act, and also of promoting and condoning racist commentary on her page.

SAHRC spokesman Isaac Mangena said: “[We] have been receiving complaints about the racist content of Ms Bridges’ Facebook pages for years.

“There can be no doubt that there was speech that is so racist and so harmful that it is not protected and deserves the censure of the court. Racist and hate-filled comments should not be allowed to flourish in the public domain.”

Attempts to obtain comment from Bridges were unsuccessful yesterday.

More than four years ago, she reportedly denied being racist, despite posting on her page that “Of all the instruments one can use to build straight – a spirit level, profiles, measuring tape, fishing line, square – a sjambok is the only one that works for this Greenie of mine!!! Eish!!!!! Sx”.

– Andile Ndlovu and Kingdom Mabuza

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