×

We've got news for you.

Register on HeraldLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

Displaying old flag spits in face of democracy

AfriForum made arguments on why the display of the old flag, used from 1928 to 1994, should not be viewed as hate speech. Stock photo.
AfriForum made arguments on why the display of the old flag, used from 1928 to 1994, should not be viewed as hate speech. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/skycinema

Is the gratuitous display of the flag flown by SA during the apartheid era a form of hate speech or, given democratic SA’s commitment to freedom of speech, should it be allowed in the interest of free expression?

That is the nub of the contrasting viewpoints held by pressure group AfriForum on the one side and the Nelson Mandela Foundation and SA Human Rights Commission on the other.

Three years ago, the equality court considered the matter and Gauteng’s then deputy judge-president, Phineas Mojapelo, found that the display of the apartheid flag was indeed a form of hate speech.

The case was initiated after AfriForum and other organisations held a “Black Monday” protest against farm murders during which demonstrators waved the apartheid-era flag, an action the Nelson Mandela Foundation said was intended to promote white supremacy.

The issue was back on the agenda this week with AfriForum asking the Supreme Court of Appeal to overturn the ruling.

AfriForum says there is a difference between free speech and hate speech and Mojapelo’s ruling is the thin end of the wedge and will lead to other censorship.

We disagree. Free speech is not without limits.

It cannot be used to promote hatred and violence and this is precisely what the apartheid-era flag symbolised for most South Africans.

Few would argue for open display of the Nazi swastika. This is because of its hateful connotations.

The flag associated with a system of racial oppression that was deemed a crime against humanity is no different.

Save for exceptional circumstances such as historical display or artistic statement, displaying this flag, whether in public or private, amounts to making a pro-apartheid, white supremacist statement that spits in the face of democratic SA.

Regardless of the decision by the Supreme Court of Appeal, it is puzzling why AfriForum wants to be associated with this.

It would be better advised to put its energy into helping heal the divisions of the past.

HeraldLIVE

subscribe

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.