Human Rights Commission is an apologist for racism – from Agrizzi to Catzavelos to BLF

Human Rights Commission is an apologist for racism – from Agrizzi to Catzavelos to BLF

Black First Land First (BLF) is appalled by the naked racism of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in that it tends to effectively absolve white perpetrators of anti black hate speech, by facilitating light sanctions for infringements in this regard.

The SAHRC is manifestly inconsistent in its handling of complaints lodged with it. It administers justice unjustly, in that it is lenient towards whites and shockingly harsh in relation to blacks. To this end it is an apologist for racism.

For instance in examining the outcome of the complaints of hate speech lodged against Adam Catzavelos and Angelo Agrizzi as opposed to that lodged against BLF and its leaders, there are obvious discrepancies.

For using the k-word, the SAHRC had come to an agreement with the white man, Adam Catzavelos, that he will simply apologise for his comments and pay R150 000 over thirty consecutive monthly installments of R5000 each. This agreement was a reduction of the initial relief sought by the SAHRC which included payment of R200 000 over 20 monthly installments. The complaint was that while on holiday in 2018, Catzavelos celebrated the fact there were no blacks on the beach. He hatefully said “Not one k***r in sight, f*king heaven on earth… You cannot beat this!”

Similarly Angelo Agrizzi, the former Bosasa CEO, had reached a court settlement with the SAHRC on 27 June 2019 that he will pay R200,000 to the Barney Mokgatle Foundation for using the k-word at numerous instances in relation to two black executives of Bosasa, namely Joe Gumede and Papa Leshabane. His utterances were heard in a recorded audio clip that was played during his evidence at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture earlier this year. He also agreed to tender an apology in this regard.

In each of these cases the SAHRC was amenable to a settlement. Compare the outcomes of the said complaints facilitated by the SAHRC involving white perpetrators, with the outcome of the case of Lucy Strydom // BLF & 6 others, which was heard eventually in the Equality Court sitting in the Magistrates Court in Johannesburg under case number 11/2018 (Strydom case) – which involved black respondents. When the complaint in this case was lodged by Lucy Strydom (a white woman) with the SAHRC, it decided to defend Strydom and escalate the matter to the Equality Court. The SAHRC further assisted Strydom to seek an order to effectively ban BLF and prevent it from contesting elections.

More specifically the relief sought by Strydom was the following:

i. In May 2018 Lucy Strydom assisted by the SAHRC launched an application against BLF & 6 others for relief in the following terms:

a. Declaring that BLF’s verbal statement through its members, “One Settler, One Bullet”, constitutes hate speech in terms of section 10(1) of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention if Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000 (“the Equality Act”);
b. Declaring that BLF’s written statement, “Land or Death”, constitutes hate speech in terms of section 10(1) of the Equality Act.
c) Ordering BLF and its members to desist from using the phrases “One Settler, One Bullet” or “Land or Death” under any circumstances;
d) Ordering BLF to remove “Land or Death” from content on its website, ‘including from the Soweto Declaration’, and from clothing publicly worn by BLF’s members within a week from the date of the order;
e) Ordering BLF to delete all its social media posts with the hashtag #LandOrDeath within a week from the date of the order; and to desist immediately from making any new posts on social media with the said hashtag;
f) Ordering BLF to donate R150 000 to a charitable organization which promotes ‘racial cohesion’;
g) Ordering BLF to unconditionally apologise, in writing, for the use the statements, “One Settler, One Bullet” and “Land or Death”, and to submit the said apology to the SAHRC within a week from the date of the order which must be published on its (SAHRC’s) website;
h) Ordering the 6 other respondents to take ‘immediate and meaningful steps to ensure’ that BLF complies with the orders that constitute (c-g) above:
i) An order by virtue of section 21(2)(I) of the Equality Act, which recommends that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) reviews BLF’s eligibility for registration as a political party, given the its ‘repeated violent threats to white people’.
j) An order by virtue of section 21(2)(n) of the Equality Act, which directs the Clerk of the Equality Court to refer the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) ‘for the possible institution of criminal proceedings’ against BLF in terms of relevant legislation or the common law;
k) ‘Respondents to pay costs in the event of opposing this application’;
l) ‘Further and/or alternative relief’.

Furthermore, the SAHRC had provided three attorneys and an advocate at State expense to Lucy Strydom to pursue this matter against BLF and its leaders, who in turn have never been found by the court to have employed hate speech against any person before. This suggests that the SAHRC’s decision to unnecessarily escalate the matter to the Equality Court was politically motivated. It appears to us that the SAHRC is biased against BLF and its leaders they are black.

The SAHRC’s conduct accordingly indicates that it may be captured from within by right wingers who don’t want BLF to go to parliament. In March this year, BLF had requested a meeting with the SAHRC about the inconsistent manner in which it handles complaints lodged with it. It has ignored our request. We are now considering escalating our engagement with the SAHRC to the next level, including mass action.

Issued by Black First Land First, National Coordinating Committee of (BLF NCC)

20 August 2019

Contact Details

Black First Land First Mail: [email protected]

Zanele Lwana
(BLF Deputy President)
Cell: +27 79 986 7225

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