Journalists’ fears have
been heightened by
the publication …
of a draft Bill under
the title of Prevention and Combating
of Hate Crimes and
Hate Speech which
proposes sweeping
inroads on freedom of
expression and freedom of the media.
Dangers of censorship
Certain clauses in the Prevention and
Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate
Speech Bill, illustrate the major problem
in trying to deal with hate speech. In defining it and taking action to prohibit it,
the immediate consequence is intrusion
into freedom of expression and the application of censorship. This is strongly
opposed, by among others, writers and
journalists. They believe that freedom of
expression is a core value of a civilised
and democratic society and that any
curbs on hate speech will have the effect
of preventing people from having access
to the views and thoughts of others and
thus limiting their freedom.


So This is Democracy? 2016

Hate crime is the commission of any offence under any law by a person motivated by prejudice, bias or intolerance
towards the victim because of the characteristics – or perceived characteristics
– that underlie the offence of communicating hate speech.
An important feature of hate speech is
the necessity of proving that the culprit
incited or brought about “harm” to the
victim. This requirement is a cardinal
principle laid down in the Constitution
but the definition of harm is extremely
wide and includes any mental, psychological, physical or economic harm.
The penalties for hate speech are severe.
For a first offence, a three-year jail term
or a fine, not defined but according to
commentators likely to be heavy, can be
imposed and for a second offence, the
prison sentence can be ten years or a
commensurate fine. In contrast, in Britain, the practice has been to impose a
six months’ jail term for a first offence.
Punishment for hate crime is more variable being subject to legal and court
jurisdiction but the severity of the maximum is even more daunting, extending
in some instances to a life sentence.
Coupled with this is the reappearance in
discussions of the ANC’s policy-making
committees that the ANC should give effect to the party’s long-standing proposal
that it initiate legislation in Parliament to
set up a statutory Media Appeals Tribunal to supplement, or take the place of,
the print media industry’s self-regulating
Press Council, which deals with public
complaints about press reports.
The press is totally opposed to the tribunal, which, it is feared would be used
to ex-ercise control over editorial content. Journalists are also conscious that
the Protec-tion of State Information Bill,
also known as the “Secrecy Bill” –, with

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