'Racial discussions in homes finding its way into public spaces'

Nelson Mandela Foundation says values taught at home are some of the ways South Africans can deal with racism.

Penny Sparrow. Screengrab.

JOHANNESBURG - The Nelson Mandela Foundation says discussions held around the dinner table and values taught at home are some of the ways South Africans can deal with racism.

Members of the public, the South African Human Rights Commission and political parties have taken a strong stand against racism following several comments posted on social media in recent days.

Estate agent Penny Sparrow was the first to go viral with her comments on Facebook this weekend when she referred to black people as monkeys.

The foundation's Sello Hatang said, "There's a bigger problem that we need to be dealing with. The fact that it keeps erupting on social media tells us that these things continue to happen in the homes of people. Some of them are caught off-guard, only when they're called out, then they quickly apologise."

The African National Congress (ANC) in Parliament said 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.

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."