SAHRC a tooth­less watch­dog

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Jean LePalisseur

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


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.

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