Parliament has re-opened the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill for public comment until Friday October 1.
The decision to reopen the bill follows on from the Constitutional Court’s recent decision and definition of hate speech (in the Qwelane matter).
The bill – for the first time in SA’s history – criminalises certain forms of expression.
It defines “hate speech” wider than the Constitutional Court, and makes “hate speech” a criminal offence (Clause 4(1)). The offence will make any speech (as well as the distribution of such speech) that could be construed to be “harmful” on a wide range of grounds, a criminal act carrying up to a 3-year jail sentence.
The hate speech definition and criminalisation will potentially have dire repercussions on freedom of (religious) expression.
Note: While we are encouraged by the inclusion of a “religious exemption clause” (in clause 4(2)(d)) in the bill, as advocated for by FOR SA, and the many religious organisations and groups who previously made submissions on the bill), it may not offer sufficient protection. Concerns, therefore, remain regarding the criminalisation of free expression.
Even if you have previously submitted comments on the bill, please make a submission again.
Download the template submission for either organisations or individuals, to use “as is” or adapt, and send it to Parliament (Hatecrimes@parliament.gov.za) by no later than Friday October 1.
* Individual submission
* Organisation submission
Alternatively, you can make an individual submission directly via the DearSA online platform – Click here.