SAHRC a toothless watchdog
IT HAS been widely reported in the media that the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has decided to investigate President Jacob Zuma’s son Edward Zuma for reportedly making offensive racist comments in a letter criticising former ministers Pravin Gordhan and Derek Hanekom.
One could say any attempt by the SAHRC to curb the rampant, incendiary discourse pertaining to our daily politics is welcome.
Although the letter apparently contains some most obnoxious invective, given our robust political debate and, surely with much bigger and noxious fish to fry, there has been a spate of generally uncontested racist and xenophobic rhetoric by well-known South Africans who should know better.
Human Rights watchdog bodies such as the SAHRC seem to be either totally impotent or useless and with a very selective bias with respect to whom to pursue.
In the latest abominable incident, a racist school teacher, Keith Arlow, from St John’s College, was found guilty by a disciplinary hearing of numerous incidents of racist victimisation of vulnerable pupils.
Instead of being summarily dismissed, principal Paul Edey, amazingly, gave him a slap-on-the wrist censure with reduction of salary and status.
Thank goodness for the bravery of many St Johns’ pupils who launched a strong protest action, supported by alumni luminaries, which resulted in Gauteng MEC Panyaza Lesufi intervening to demand Arlow’s dismissal.
And only then, justice was achieved.
I question where the SAHRC was in this highly publicised racist imbroglio?
It has the power to either act on public complaints or to act on its own initiative.
It’s not too late for the SAHRC to belatedly enter the fray.
Perhaps it could launch an investigation into the wimpish actions of headmaster Edey, who thought it permissible to allow a racist teacher to continue interacting with the same children he had been found guilty of racially victimising.
Maybe they should press for the dismissal of Edey, as recommended by St John’s alumni Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh and Markus Trengrove, as he doesn’t seem to have a grasp of what is required from a school administrator in our troubled society.
In a concurrent incident, 23 years after democracy dawned, a racist Joburg community has vigorously challenged the appointment of a new black principal to their local school.
Unchallenged by the likes of the SAHRC and the Equality Court, the xenophobic Joburg DA loose cannon DA mayor Herman Mashaba is unapologetic and persisting in making regular Afrophobic remarks about African immigrants in the city.
His rants might gain favour with a burgeoning xenophobic public, but they are highly unbecoming of a public figure tasked with promoting societal tolerance and harmony.
Similarly, as if being given carte blanche by all our human rights bodies and a wimpy admonition by a SAHRC spokesperson, Deputy Police Minister Bongani Mkongi has been stirring antipathy against foreign African nationals.
He has made incendiary statements that foreigners are taking up 80% of all accommodation in the inner city flatland, which is blatantly untrue, and that foreign African immigrants are committing “economic sabotage against our country”.
Despite public anger about his Afrophobic rants, he is undeterred and has, in fact, increased his hate diatribe to include the populist “shoot to kill” claptrap which always seems to later increase police brutality.
All of the racist invective by mindless public figures serves to increase the violence vortex and one wonders where the SAHRC has been hiding during this recent cycle of bombasity.
Lastly, I enlighten Mkongi about the latest Africa Check finding on the number of foreigners presently incarcerated in South African prisons. The number of foreign nationals stands at a mere 11 842 out of a total prison population of 158 111, which is only 7.5%.
Final proof that, contrary to inflammatory comment from bigots that crime is predominantly a foreign culpability, our jails are full of very evil South African citizens.
Many of those 7.5% foreign prisoners are only remand detainees awaiting trial and many have been convicted of minor immigration offences. Killarney
WRITE TO US
BARK OR BITE?: The SA Human Rights Commission says it will probe President Jacob Zuma’s son, Edward Zuma, for allegedly making offensive, racist comments in a letter criticising former ministers Pravin Gordhan and Derek Hanekom.