ANC proposes stricter sanctions to prevent racism

The ANC in Parliament says it will explore ways to make racist comments punishable by law.

South African Parliament. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - The African National Congress (ANC) in Parliament says existing legislation is not enough to prevent racist comments and has proposed stricter sanctions.

Politicians have weighed in on the prevailing national debate around race, which has been reignited by controversial social media comments about black people.

KwaZulu-Natal real estate agent Penny Sparrow raised the ire of social media commentators when she referred to black people as monkeys, while well-known economist Chris Hart tweeted that years after Apartheid ended, blacks feel entitled and hate minorities.

The ANC in Parliament said it will explore ways to make racist comments punishable by law.

It said the penalty for such transgressions should be imprisonment.

Party spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said, "It will promote reconciliation because as a nation we'll be able to shun and isolate racists."

The Economic Freedom Fighters has also called for a debate on criminalising racism.

Crimen Injuria, which is the act of seriously impairing the dignity of another is a common law offence in South Africa.

Sparrow could be charged with this crime, after the Democratic Alliance (DA) opened a case against her over her monkey comments.


Meanwhile, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has launched an investigation into racist comments made on social media and is calling for formal complaints.

The commission says it's deeply concerned by recent posts made.

SAHRC spokesperson Dieketseng Diale said it's concerning that comments of this kind still appear 22 years into democracy.

"In the Bill of Rights, the right of human dignity needs to be respected. People need to know that it is a violation to say something like this about another person."