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AfriForum: Banning old SA flag would limit freedom of expression

AfriForum's lawyer Mark Oppenheimer said that hateful symbols should be allowed in public spaces because they educate people on what is right and wrong.

Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi argues for the Nelson Mandela Foundation on why the old South African flag should be banned as it constitutes hate speech in the Johannesburg Equality Court. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – Lobby group AfriForum says it would be unconstitutional for the Equality Court to ban the old apartheid flag.

The controversial group said that hate speech, no matter how harmful, should be allowed in public because the Constitution doesn't prohibit racist hate speech, it just doesn't protect it.

AfriForum is opposing an application brought by the Nelson Mandela Foundation seeking to ban the flag under the Equality Act.

The forum's lawyer Mark Oppenheimer said that hateful symbols should be allowed in public spaces because they educate people on what is right and wrong.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation wanted the flag to be declared as hate speech due to its association with apartheid.

Oppenheimer said if the flag is banned, it would set a dangerous precedent.

“At no point is there a denial of the pain. I understand that it would, as a gay person, be painful to see an old South African flag to say that ‘that was the regime which had homophobic laws and marginalised me’.

“I understand that and I acknowledge it but the question is does that make it hate speech and requires the banning of the flag?”

Oppenheimer said that taking away the right for people to display the flag would be limiting their freedom of expression.

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