SAJBD statement on the passing of the Prevention and Combatting of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill

SAJBD statement on the passing of the Prevention and Combatting of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill in the National Assembly on Tuesday March 14th 2023

Date: 15 February 2023

After over a decade of advocating for hate crimes legislation in our country, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies was delighted that the National Assembly passed the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill yesterday on Tuesday March 14th 2023.

This important milestone in the fight against discrimination and prejudice in our country is long overdue, and we welcome the overwhelming vote of 237 in favour of the Bill to 79 votes against. We would like to congratulate and thank the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development on their efforts to get the Bill adopted and look forward to the discussion of the Bill in the National Council of Provinces.

The SAJBD, as a founding and steering committee member of the multi-sectoral civil society network the Hate Crimes Working Group, has been extensively involved in providing written and oral submissions on the Bill over recent years. We will continue to engage on this important issue.

A Hate Crimes Bill not only sends a strong message that hate and prejudice are unacceptable in our society; and assist the police and prosecutors in investigating, charging, and prosecuting hate crimes and hate speech; but it will also give courts meaningful sentencing guidelines and allow for the effective recording of statistics, so that we can better understand the nature of the problem and create successful interventions.

For more information on the HCWG, please visit our website www.hcwg.org.za

ENDS

Please see the statement from the Hate Crimes Working Group below:

MEDIA STATEMENT

15 March 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

HCWG welcomes the adoption of the Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill by the National Assembly

The Hate Crimes Working Group (HCWG) welcomes the adoption of the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill. On Tuesday, the Bill was adopted by the National Assembly, with 237 members voting in favour of the Bill and 79 against it. This is a major step in the long-awaited legislative process.

The HCWG, a coalition of civil society organisations from a variety of sectors and disciplines, has been advocating for a comprehensive South African law against hate crime since 2009. We made a written submission after the Portfolio Committee published the Bill and called for public comment on 26 August 2021, and the HCWG also participated in the public hearings which took place on 29 March 2022.

Once it becomes an Act, the HCWG hopes that the law will:

  1. Send a strong message that hate and prejudice are unacceptable in our society.
  2. Assist the police and prosecutors in investigating, charging, and prosecuting hate crimes and hate speech.
  3. Give courts meaningful sentencing guidelines.
  4. Allow for the effective recording of statistics, so we can better understand the nature of the problem and create successful interventions.

“This is a major milestone and we congratulate the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development on the adoption of the Bill. With the recent spike in hate crimes particularly against the migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, and LGBTIQ+ communities, it is more urgent than ever,” said Sibusiso Khasa from Amnesty International South Africa, who chairs the HCWG.

The HCWG looks forward to the concurrence of the National Council of Provinces, where another round of public comments is anticipated.

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