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South Africans urged to use social media to combat racism

The SAHRC has completed its hearings into online racism & has urged South Africans to use social media to promote unity.

Angie Makwetla, Bongani Majola and Justice Albie Sachs at the SAHRC hearing on racism and social media on 15 February 2017. Picture: Masa Kekana/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG – The South African Human Rights Commission has completed its hearings into online racism and has urged South Africans to use social media to promote unity.

The commission held a two-day hearing into the increase of complaints over racism on social media.

The hearings saw presentations from various sectors of society including the Facebook team in Africa, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), lobby groups for freedom of expression, various government departments, the Mandela and Kathrada Foundations, and more.

At the end of the hearings commissioner Angie Makwetla urged South Africans to sign the anti-racism pledge.

“Race-related complaints, consistently represent the largest proportion of alleged violation of the right to equality received by the commission.”

At the same time former Constitutional Court Justice Albie Sachs says social media can be used in many positive ways.

“This social media can do extraordinary work to combat racism, to get beyond that and get people together and enable people to be who they are, living together with shared values in one country.”

Sachs says the racism from the past has clearly not disappeared.

RACIAL ATTACKS

There have been renewed calls over the last two years for conversations to take place about race.

Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni said South Africa has given itself the wrong accolade by referring to itself as a rainbow nation without having these discussions.

Last year saw a variety of racial incidents, from Judge Mabel Jansen, Sodwana Bay guest house owner Andre Slade, estate agents Vicki Momberg and Penny Sparrow, with a number of others also being reported to the Human Rights Commission for comments in retaliation.

A Facebook conversation between high court judge Mabel Jansen and other social media users. Picture: Twitter.

A Facebook conversation between high court judge Mabel Jansen and other social media users. Picture: Twitter.

Penny Sparrow Facebook post, calling black people monkeys. Picture: Facebook

Fikeni said South Africa is suffering from a trust deficit and solid leadership is needed.

“The first thing is to have slid leadership at government [and] corporate level; private sector, civil society and in the media; about the issues racial bias, because very often media tends to treat these things differently.”

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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