Spar­row fine was crumbs for a crime of racism

CityPress - - Voices - Vuyani Ngal­wana

Would you buy a prop­erty from this woman?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word RACE and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50

There can be no doubt that when a per­son at­tributes gang rape to an en­tire race as a “plea­sur­able pas­time” and as part of that race’s cul­ture, that per­son in­tends (whether by do­lus di­rec­tus or do­lus even­tu­alis) to hurt that en­tire race and the women of that race.

In each of these cases, the law places the bur­den on these peo­ple to dis­prove their racist in­tent (sec­tion 13 of Pepuda). One of the reme­dies that the equal­ity court may grant a vic­tim of racism is to re­fer such racism for crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion to the Direc­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions (sec­tion 10(2); sec­tion 21(2)(n) of Pepuda).

Once the Direc­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions de­cides to pros­e­cute, and the racist is found guilty of racism (AKA hate speech), a crim­i­nal sanc­tion will be im­posed. This is where the courts can play a sig­nif­i­cant role in root­ing out racism. I be­lieve the leg­is­la­ture should per­haps even ex­tend the min­i­mum sen­tence regime to hate speech or racism cases. That way, racists will at least think twice be­fore abus­ing their right to free­dom of speech.

Black peo­ple have borne the brunt of racism for far too long. It is time we all bring a stop to this pain by us­ing the le­gal tools that are there and lobby for harsher sen­tences. My hu­man dig­nity (which is not only an en­trenched right but a foun­da­tional value of our Con­sti­tu­tion) is not worth the pal­try R150 000 fine that the Equal­ity Court im­posed on Spar­row.

As a re­sult of the le­niency of the sanc­tion meted out on her by the Equal­ity Court, Spar­row still be­lieves she did noth­ing wrong, if the in­ter­view in You mag­a­zine is any in­di­ca­tion. Clearly, she has not got the mes­sage that her racist rant is a se­ri­ous crime.

Jonathan Shapiro’s re­sponse was to ap­pear on tele­vi­sion and ex­press shock that black peo­ple should re­act with out­rage at his por­trayal of Abra­hams as a mon­key. Clearly, he does not get it.

The fel­low who called black peo­ple “k*ffirs” got “com­mu­nity ser­vice”. The ju­di­cial of­fi­cer who im­posed such a soft sanc­tion does not seem to get it.

A per­son in high of­fice faces com­plaints akin to racism for call­ing black peo­ple rapists by cul­ture. This is an op­por­tu­nity for a strong de­ter­rent mes­sage to be sent to all who may be think­ing of say­ing these out­ra­geous and racist things.

Black peo­ple can stop racism. It starts with one per­son. How­ever many hate mails I get, I shall do my fair share by ex­pos­ing racism wher­ever it emerges and in­sist­ing on a harsh sen­tence. I ask more ra­tio­nal South Africans to join me in bring­ing an end to this scourge. I am gatvol. Be gatvol to­gether with me.

Ngal­wana SC is an ad­vo­cate at the Duma Nokwe Group

PHOTO: FELIX DLANGAMANDLA

Penny Spar­row

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