The South African Human Rights Commission (HRC) has been handed with a complaint of hate speech. It will probably be the easiest judgement in the HRC’s existence. Andile Mngxitama, the self-appointed spokesperson for black South Africans and full-time professional victim, called for mass murder this week.
Mngxitama said that, for each black person killed in South Africa, five white people would have to be killed. A video has been circulating online to confirm that these words did, in fact, come from his mouth. Everyone can see it for themselves. The evidence is as clear as daylight, but what we are all waiting for is a response from the HRC.
As far as my understanding of the law, South Africa has three limitations on freedom of expression: Hate speech, propaganda for war, and incitement of imminent violence. The only legitimate question is in which one of these three categories does Andile’s statement fall.
In recent times the HRC has been active in charging Penny Sparrow, Vickey Momberg, and other cases of obvious racism, but one cannot help but to connect the dots. Will the HRC uphold the basic principle of justice that everyone must abide by the same rules, or are some among us going to be more equal than others – especially if you are a leader of a political movement? The BLF has far more weight behind their announcements than fringe racists who react out of anger. The HRC therefore must react far more urgently. The question is, do they have the backbone to do it or will the continue to chase down fringe groups while cowering behind their own moral inaction?
I cannot help but ask the same question of some media outlets that are giving Andile far too much attention than he deserves. He claims to be quoted out of context, but is there really a context in which it is okay to call for a mass murder? Is there really a deep psychological understanding that can justify his remarks? I doubt any sane person would think so.
Fortunately for whites, many black South Africans have condemned Andile’s remarks as ridiculous and I do not doubt that he is even a joke among blacks, much like the Suidlanders or AWB have been among whites.
The problem with not taking this threat seriously is that threats always start out as a joke to test the waters and then eventually morph into action. Tyrants can always count on non-existent dissent from the media and state institutions.
Will this be a spectacular repetition of their inaction?