Calling for whites to be treated as Hitler did to Jews declared hate speech
He was responding to an earlier racist comment from Penny Sparrow who referred to blacks “as monkeys”.
Both, no doubt, have come to rue their incautious remarks. Both recanted. But Judge Roland Sutherland of the Gauteng Equality Court was not happy with Khumalo’s apparent recantation, especially as he more recently decided it wasn’t hate speech after all.
Sutherland today declared that Khumalo’s remarks constituted hate speech and interdicted him from repeating them. He also ordered that he issue an apology to all South Africans.
The matter was first raised in the Roodepoort Magistrates Equality Court by the ANC, and then later in the high court by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).
Given the rising tempo of racist remarks spewing from the mouths of politicians and various factions, the ruling should give cause 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 (there) is a large number of not so racist whit (sic) people. I’m starting to be sceptical even of those within our movement ANC. I will from today unfriend all white people I have a 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, says he was reacting in anger to Penny Sparrow’s well-known Facebook post in 2016 wherein she referred to black people as “monkeys”. He says he was upset and hurt by the post and no reasonable person could construe this as an incitement to violence. He was reprimanded by his employer, and the backlash on Facebook was instant and ferocious. The ANC was the first to bring the matter to court.
In its complaint to the Roodepoort Equality Court, the ANC argued: “It is common cause as seen above that some of our members are white people and hereby duly represented by the ANC in bringing this Application. It is further common cause that Hitler subjected Jews to concentration camps, tortured them and subjected them to (a) painful and most gruesome form of human rights violation. The Respondent is therefore suggesting in his social media post that white people, some of whom are our members, be subjected to the same treatment, that their human rights be violated as Hitler did to the Jews.”
These utterances by Khumalo had the effect of inciting violence against white people, and therefore represented an act of unfair discrimination.
By July 2016 Khumalo had already repented and indicated he intended to plead guilty to the charges brought against him by the ANC. “I believe as a young person I should be at the forefront of fighting racism. I also understand the importance of the process taken against me. I believe it seeks to correct my actions while at the same time raising awareness of the scourge of racism black or white.”
Judge Roland Sutherland, in his judgment delivered today, pointed out despite the apologies, Khumalo later recanted his admission that his utterances constituted hate speech. “Again, logically, a recantation that he committed hate speech inescapably implies a tacit withdrawal of the substantive apology. The husk of an empty apology carries no weight,” wrote Sutherland.
The SA Human Rights Commission pointed to the vulnerability of whites to violence, and mentions the gratuitous violence inflicted on a white farming family during a robbery. It also points out that a sizeable proportion of SA Jews are descendants of Holocaust victims and survivors.
The Equality Act prohibits the “advocacy of hatred, based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion that constitutes incitement to cause harm as contemplated…in the Constitution and…this Act.” While free speech is protected in terms of Section 16 of the Constitution, this protection is not absolute: it stops at the point where it causes harm and violates the dignity of others.
Khumalo’s legal counsel argued that his utterances were mere “hyperbole” and not an incitement to cause harm. Sutherland ruled that the remarks were indeed hate speech and ordered Khumalo to apologise to all South Africans.