MPs raise concerns over new hate speech bill

Justice committee chairperson Mathole Motshekga says they should be careful that the bill does not have unintended consequences like criminalising people over 'moral issues'.

FILE: Former African National Congress (ANC) Chief Whip Mathole Motshekga. Picture: Supplied.

CAPE TOWN – Members of Parliament (MPs) have raised concern over the new hate speech bill, saying that it fails to address the national question of racism.

While acknowledging the importance of the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill in principle, the Justice portfolio committee wants more time to discuss the bill in greater detail.

The committee heard that should a person be convicted of hate crimes, the bill provides for the courts to impose sentencing, including imprisonment, a fine and correctional supervision depending on the base crime.

Justice committee chairperson Mathole Motshekga says they should be careful that the bill does not have unintended consequences like criminalising people over “moral issues”.

He has called for a national dialogue on the various issues so as to not create problems like sending people to prison because of intolerance.

“Are we not going to end up with more people [in prison] and already we’ve crowded prisons?”

While the committee has noted the urgency of the bill, MPs would first like to consider the legislation for greater clarity before it decides on the way forward.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)