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Hate crimes bill to hold perpetrators accountable - Masutha

Justice Minister Michael Masutha says this law is just one component of efforts to stamp out racism in SA.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Justice Minister Michael Masutha says new legislation which criminalises hate crimes and hate speech won't end the scourge, but will serve as an instrument to hold perpetrators legally accountable.

The minister yesterday announced the publication of the Prevention and Combatting of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill for public comment.

He says that lawmakers looked around the world for best practices, such as legislation in Kenya, Canada and Australia.

Masutha says this law is just one component of efforts to stamp out racism and other forms of prejudice in the country.

"This bill may not end racism and other intolerances, but it creates an instrument to hold those guilty of committing acts of this kind accountable for the law."

Deputy Justice Minister John Jeffrey says that a hate crime is an existing crime when it's motivated by prejudice, bias or intolerance of the victim's group.

"Simply put, when you throw a brick at a mosque it's a crime and malicious damage to property. You throw a brick at a mosque because you don't like Muslims and it elevates it to a hate crime."

The law does cater for hate speech on social media, including Facebook and Twitter.