The fight against racism in South Africa is taking a giant leap forward with the Prevention of Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill now being tabled in Parliament.
In short, the law calls for prison sentences (up to 3 years) or fine for anyone who commits a verbal or physical attack that is found to be racist or hateful.
The draft law was originally introduced in late 2016, and more than 75 000 public submissions were received in support of the Bill.
The progress of the Prevention of Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill comes at a particularly significant time in South Africa as a recent case involving a woman, Vicki Momberg, who used a racial slur against a police officer, result in a two-year prison sentence.
She became the first person in the country’s history to be jailed for using a racist slur.
The court’s decision was lauded by the majority of South Africans, but it did receive criticism from certain human rights groups, who felt as though it impacted freedom of speech.
The bill will now be considered by Parliament’s Justice Committee before being passed on to the House for final approval.