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SAHRC: Malema’s comments do not legally qualify as hate speech

The South African Human Rights Commission says that EFF leader Julius Malema's comments are offensive but they do not legally qualify as hate speech.

FILE: Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema addresses hundreds of members and supporters who gathered near the Dlomo Dam in Sharpeville on 21 March 2019 at the 25th commemoration of Human Rights Day. Picture: @EFFSouthAfrica/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has found Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema's recent statements which include utterances about race do not legally qualify as hate speech.

The commission has received five complaints arising from statements made by Malema or his party members between 2016 and last year.

Each complaint was considered separately on its owns merits.

SAHRC chair Bongani Majola says that discrimination on the basis of race is an emotive issue in South Africa, which should be considered.

"Wherever and whoever it comes from, we have to bear the emotive and divisive nature of the hate speech in mind."

But he also points out that various Equality Court rulings on hate speech are not unanimous and therefore need more legal clarity on where the boundaries are.

"Partly because the law itself in this regard is not yet crystal clear and partly because we wanted to view and review the conclusions that the legal principles seemed to be compelling us towards."

One of the complaints that the commission was asked to investigate was a statement that Malema made saying that he is not calling for the slaughter of white people, for now.

The commission says that Malema clarified that in the context of his statement - he was speaking to a group of people who don't have land.

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