The Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill provides for offences related to several forms of discrimination, including those on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and nationality. The bill was originally drafted with only hate crime in mind. However, in response to the recent increase in hate speech incidents, especially on social media platforms, the department of Justice and Constitutional Development made the decision to include a hate speech provision. The bill, through the criminalisation of hate speech and hate crime, intends to ensure greater alignment between practice and constitutional provisions that protect vulnerable groups. It will not only enforce harsher sentencing and larger fines, but will also implement educational and sensitivity training programmes for both the public and public service staff as a means of making its effect felt on a grass roots level.
The Southern African Liaison Office (SALO) in Partnership with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and Open Society Foundation for South Africa hosted a dialogue on the ‘Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill’ on Thursday, February 23rd 2017, at the Sunnyside Park Hotel, Parktown, Johannesburg. The dialogue sought to explore whether the Bill will be effective in addressing some of the systematic hate crimes plaguing South Africa.