Pe­nalise racists – Man­tashe

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Pub­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tives who stir up racial ten­sion should face harsh fi­nan­cial sanc­tions as a de­ter­rent to reg­u­late their con­duct and not put our frag­ile democ­racy at risk, says ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe.

Man­tashe said in court pa­pers the ANC filed this week in the equal­ity court that it was not enough for the courts to merely cen­sure DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard for shar­ing a so­cial-me­dia post that praised late apartheid leader PW Botha.

“The re­spon­dent rep­re­sents the [DA] in a pub­lic fo­rum and is paid by tax­pay­ers for her ser­vices,” said Man­tashe. He said that, in that ca­pac­ity, Kohler Barnard owed “a duty to South Africans to con­duct her­self re­spon­si­bly and not en­gage in racial abuse or racist acts [that are] con­trary to our Con­sti­tu­tion and the laws of the coun­try”.

Kohler Barnard – who had shared on her per­sonal Face­book page a post prais­ing Botha and call­ing for his re­turn – had sub­se­quently apol­o­gised and was sanc­tioned by the DA. In Oc­to­ber, the party’s fed­eral ex­ec­u­tive ex­pelled her, but the sanc­tion was lifted two months later fol­low­ing an ap­peal.

The DA’s dis­ci­plinary com­mit­tee sus­pended Kohler Barnard’s ex­pul­sion for five years, fined her R20 000 and re­moved her from all elected po­si­tions.

How­ever, Man­tashe said in court pa­pers that “for an ex­pe­ri­enced politi­cian hold­ing such a se­nior po­si­tion in a political party, her party’s sanc­tions amount to a slap on the wrist given the enor­mity of her mis­con­duct”.

He said the trauma caused by a call for the re­turn of apartheid rule patently jus­ti­fied a harsher penalty.

“An ap­pro­pri­ate sanc­tion is one of dis­missal, or else the party is seen as con­don­ing the hurt caused to black peo­ple and the glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of white mi­nor­ity rule,” said Man­tashe.

What kind of pun­ish­ment should be meted

out for racist ut­ter­ances?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word RACIST and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your

name. SMSes cost R1.50

The ANC on Fri­day also is­sued a state­ment con­demn­ing an­other DA MP, Anchen Dreyer, for al­legedly par­tic­i­pat­ing in the com­mem­o­ra­tion of his­tor­i­cal fig­ure Paul Kruger.

ANC par­lia­men­tary spokesper­son Moloto Mothapo said Kruger was “a ruth­less and blood­thirsty colo­nial-era racist ruler who presided over the mass killings, tor­ture, ha­rass­ment and cruel de­struc­tion of black com­mu­ni­ties in var­i­ous parts of this coun­try”.

“He was an apartheid pi­o­neer who led the en­slave­ment, dis­pos­ses­sion, eco­nomic de­pri­va­tion and sub­ju­ga­tion of black peo­ple,” added Mothapo.

He said Dreyer’s “unashamed glo­ri­fi­ca­tion and ad­mi­ra­tion of such a rep­re­hen­si­ble fig­ure is a tacit en­dorse­ment of the heinous crimes against hu­man­ity he per­pet­u­ated against black South Africans”.

“Any­one who re­gards Kruger as a hero is also a racist who shares all that he stood for, in­clud­ing a be­lief that blacks are in­fe­rior savages who de­serve the un­told suf­fer­ing they en­dured for many years un­der colo­nial­ism and apartheid,” said Mothapo.

How­ever, Mothapo was re­minded by oth­ers on so­cial-me­dia plat­form Twit­ter that the ANC de­fended the statue of Kruger when mem­bers of the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers van­dalised it in April.

At the time, ANC mem­bers cleaned a van­dalised statue of Kruger in cen­tral Port El­iz­a­beth, say­ing ev­ery cul­ture’s his­tory needed to be pre­served for com­ing gen­er­a­tions.

On­line news site Netwerk24 quoted ANC leg­is­la­tor Chris­tian Martin say­ing that “the ANC has to take the lead as the rul­ing party to en­sure that ev­ery cul­ture’s his­tory is pro­tected”.

“Mis­takes from the past have to change your life to pre­vent it from hap­pen­ing again. No one’s his­tory should be bro­ken down to ben­e­fit an­other’s,” said Martin.

The DA’s Phumzile van Damme said the ANC was grow­ing des­per­ate and wanted to di­vide South Africans along racial lines. She said South Africa “has a rich and com­plex his­tory, which can­not be wished away. Rather, the in­jus­tices of the past must be recog­nised and learnt from. And those who vi­o­lated the rights of our fel­low South Africans must be re­mem­bered for that crime too.”

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