South Africa's ANC to push for tougher laws to criminalize racism
Jan 06, 2016 10:01 PM EST
South Africa's governing social democratic political party, African National Congress (ANC), says it will seek to strengthen laws to jail anyone guilt of racial bigotry, after a woman described black people on social media as animals.
The ANC's chief whip in Parliament, Stone Sizani, said in an e-mailed statement on Wednesday that the current law are not sufficient to punish and dissuade racists, Bloomberg reported. Sizani said that the ANC will soon investigate creating a specific law or amending the existing legislation to ensure that acts of racism and promotion of apartheid are criminalized and punishable by imprisonment.
South Africa has been afflicted by a racism row after an opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) member, Penny Sparrow, compared black people to "monkeys", while commenting on Facebook about black beachgoers on New Year's Day. Sparrow later apologized, but she was condemned by many on social media.
The ANC laid charges at the Hillbrow Police Station against Sparrow and a number of individuals who allegedly made racist comments on social media in recent months. The party also laid formal complaints with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), Mail & Guadian reported.
The DA party suspended Sparrow's membership after the racism posting. The DA's leader Mmusi Maimane condemned her statements and said the alliance had brought criminal charges against her for infringing the dignity of all South Africans and for dehumanising black South Africans as it did not tolerate racism.
The ANC chief whip's office spokesman, Moloto Mothapo, told BBC News that current legislation in South Africa was insufficient to tackle racism. Mothapo said that the country hasn't had a single person imprisoned for racism despite many instances of racism. The nation doesn't believe it addresses the crime of racism.
Lester Adams, the managing partner of Johannesburg law firm Lindsay Keller, said that racism in speech and behaviour is already outlawed by the South African Consititution and in the common law accusation of crimen injuria.
The racially discriminatory apartheid system in South Africa ended in 1994, but the country is still afflicted by racism even now. The apartheid political regime in the country denied black South Africans' political rights, stripped off their land, provided with inferior schooling and confined to doing menial jobs.
The ANC's spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said that the party, together with the majority of the people of South Africa, has committed itself to advancing and realizing the aspirations of the majority of the nation's people to live in a non-racist, non-sexist South Africa.