Ramaphosa signs bill barring hate crimes, hate speech into law

President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed into law the Preventing and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill.

The bill aims to outlaw hate crimes and hate speech and prosecute those who commit such offences.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, emphasised the bill’s alignment with South Africa’s constitutional values and international human rights obligations.


Unfair discrimination

He highlighted the constitution’s commitment to human dignity, equality, human rights, and freedoms, as well as non-racialism and non-sexism.

The bill, in accordance with Section 9 of the constitution, prohibits unfair discrimination on various grounds, including race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and disability.

Magwenya said it enshrines the right to dignity and freedom from violence, whether from public or private sources.

Magwenya explained that hate crimes are defined as offences motivated by prejudice or intolerance based on certain characteristics of the victim or their association with a particular group.

Under the legislation, hate speech encompasses any intentional communication intended to incite harm or promote hatred based on specified grounds.

Certain activities are exempt

This includes electronic communication knowingly disseminated as hate speech.


“The definition of the crime extends to offences targeting the victim’s association with or support for a person with one or more of the listed characteristics or a group of persons who share these characteristics,” said Magwenya.

“The offence of hate speech applies to any person who intentionally publishes, propagates, advocates, shares or communicates anything to one or more persons in a manner that could reasonably be construed to demonstrate a clear intention to be harmful or to incite harm and to promote or propagate hatred based on defined grounds.

“The law also makes it an offence when speech material is intentionally distributed or made available in electronic communication, and the said person knows that such electronic communication constitutes hate speech.”

The law, however, exempts certain activities conducted in good faith, such as artistic expression, academic inquiry, fair reporting, and religious discourse that does not advocate hatred or incite harm, according to Magwenya.

The legislation also mandates training and other measures for law-enforcement agencies and the National Prosecuting Authority to effectively address hate crimes and hate speech.

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