Process to criminalise hate speech, crimes gets underway

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development on Wednesday introduced the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill.

FILE: Convicted racist Vicki Momberg appears in the Randburg Magistrates Court on 4 April 2018. Picture: Mia Lindeque/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Parliament has started the process to criminalise hate crimes and hate speech.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development on Wednesday introduced the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill which will make it a criminal offence to make racist remarks.

Officials from the department gave Members of Parliament an overview on the various clauses in the bill.

It seeks to address the increasing number of incidents in recent months, which are motivated by prejudice and to also assist victims of such crimes.

The bill will make it a crime for anyone to intentionally publish or propagate anything harmful based on age, race, sexual orientation or even HIV status.

Its introduction follows the sentencing of Vicki Momberg, a white woman who was handed an unprecedented two-year jail term for a racist rant against a black police officer.

The bill does include exemptions, like the right to freedom of expression as enshrined in the Constitution.

The committee will now have to discuss the bill in detail before giving it the go ahead.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)