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Questions remain on application of ruling on old SA flag

The ruling does not ban the display of the apartheid flag but will control its usage in protection of those, in the main the black majority, who find it harmful.

The Equality Court in Johannesburg on Wednesday 21 August 2019 ruled that the gratuitous display of the apartheid flag constituted hate speech. The case was brought by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the South African Human Rights Commission following displays of the old South African flag during a protest in 2017. Picture: @NelsonMandela/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - Despite the Equality Court handing down critical judgment that declared the apartheid flag as hate speech, questions remain about how the law will be applied.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation and the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) who brought the case before the court, failed to convince it to declare the contested section of the Equality Act as unconstitutional.

Can you hold on to the apartheid flag hoisted in your home?

Will you be jailed for displaying it gratuitously?

The Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Sello Hatang, whose affidavit about the traumatic effects of the gratuitous display of the flag was one of the founding documents in the case, hasn’t quite worked it out yet.

"It's not in our interests as the Nelson Mandela Foundation to now suddenly find people being imprisoned for that. It's to then find other ways of ensuring there's some community work you can do and to also atone for what you've done."

Nonetheless, lobby group AfriForum, which opposed the action by the foundation and the SAHRC, still maintains it should not be regarded as hate speech.

"We do not agree with the judgment, we do not agree that it would solve the issues the Nelson Mandela Foundation are trying to solve."

The ruling does not ban the display of the apartheid flag but will control its usage in protection of those, in the main the black majority, who find it harmful.