This article first appeared at GroundUp.
In a moment of anger, ANC member Velaphi Khumalo let rip on Facebook that South Africa needed to be cleansed of whites. He said whites needed to be treated as Hitler treated the Jews.
He was responding to an earlier racist comment on social media from Penny Sparrow, who referred to blacks as “monkeys”.
Both, no doubt, have come to rue their remarks. Both recanted. But Judge Roland Sutherland of the Equality Court in Johannesburg was not satisfied with Khumalo’s retraction, especially after Khumalo more recently decided it wasn’t hate speech after all.
On Friday, Sutherland declared that Khumalo’s remarks were hate speech and interdicted him from repeating them. He also ordered Khumalo to issue an apology to all South Africans.
The matter was first raised in the Roodepoort Magistrates’ Court (which also has an Equality Court) by the ANC. However, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) was unaware of this earlier hearing at the lower court, and brought it before the Equality Court in Johannesburg.
Given the large number of racist remarks on social media, the ruling should give keyboard warriors pause for thought.
These are the facts of the case: In 2016 Khumalo wrote on his Facebook account:
[We should] “cleanse South Africa of all whites. We must act as Hitler did to the Jews. I don’t believe any more than is a large number of not so racist whit people. I’m starting to be sceptical even of those within our movement ANC. I will from today unfriend all white people I have as friends from today u must be put under the same blanket as any other racist white because secretly u all are a bunch of racist fuck heads, as we already seen.”
In a subsequent posting he wrote:
“Noo seriously though u oppressed us when u were a minority and then manje (Zulu: now) u call us monkeys and we suppose to let it slide. White people in south Africa deserve to be hacked and killed like Jews. U have the same venom moss. Look at Palestine. Noo u must be bushed (burned) alive and skinned and your off springs used as garden fertiliser.”
Khumalo, who at the time worked as a sports officer for the Gauteng Provincial government, said he was reacting in anger to Penny Sparrow’s well-known Facebook post in 2016 wherein she referred to black people as “monkeys”. He said he was upset and hurt by the post and that no reasonable person could construe his remarks as an incitement to violence. He was reprimanded by his employer (but didn’t lose his job), and the backlash on Facebook was instant and ferocious. The ANC took the matter to court.