New hate speech laws for South Africa head to Ramaphosa to be signed

 ·6 Dec 2023

The National Assembly (NA) has passed several laws, with the highly contested Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill now just needing President Cyril Ramaphosa’s signature.

The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) passed the e Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill with proposed amendments last month, with the Bill sent back to the NA to consider the proposed amendments.

The Bill aims to protect all South Africans from hate crimes and hate speech, especially those based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or any other form of discrimination.

The Bill defines a hate crime as an offence where the offender is encouraged by prejudice towards a victim of a crime due to specific or perceived characteristics.

Hate speech is defined as the intentional publishing of anything that can incite or promote hate.

Depicting hate speech includes any written, illustrated, visual display; utterance; representation or reference; or electronic communication – meaning that social media posts fall under the new Bill.

The Bill also lists the penalties for these offences, including fines, imprisonment, or both.

Following the NA’s passing, the Bill has now been sent to the President for assent.

However, the potential new laws have been met with opposition, with fears that certain clauses can be abused.

For instance, the Bill faced opposition from the DA, the VF Plus and the ACDP, who said that politicians could abuse the new laws to stifle criticism.

The political parties also said that the Constitution already offers protections for what the Bill is trying to address.

  • National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Amendment Bill

The NA also passed the NPA Amendment Bill, which aims to establish the Investigating Directorate against Corruption (IDAC) as a permanent entity within the NPA while also making provisions for appointing permanent investigators.

“This will enhance the NPA’s independence and ability to prosecute high-level crimes,” Parliament said.

It will also establish an appeal mechanism via the appointment of a retired judge.

  • Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) Amendment Bill

The Bill aims to amend the the Independent Police Investigative Directorate Act, 2011.

The Bill also states that the IPID executive director must be appointed by the Minister of Police with concurrence from Cabinet for a non-renewable period of at least seven years and no longer than 10/

The minister would thereafter have 14 days to report the appointment of the executive director to Parliament.

  • National Youth Development Agency Amendment (NYDA) Bill

The Nyda Bill aims to amend the National Youth Development Agency Act of 2008 regarding the objects of the NYDA and amends its functions.

The Bill allows for the inclusion of additional Nyda Board members and states that members may not serve for more than two consecutive terms. It also requires the submission of financial disclosures by the Board members.

  • Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land Amendment (PDAL) Bill 

Parliament said that the PDAL Bill aims to address the shortcomings of the Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act (SALA) of 1970 by encouraging cooperative governance in the management of the Act.

It also aims to rectify identified weaknesses, such as SALA only being applicable to privately owned land, preventing the protection of land owned by the state, statutory bodies, communal land, and land administered by traditional authorities.

Apart from the Hate Speech Bill, all of these Bills will be sent to the NCOP for concurrence.

Read: The tide is turning in South Africa

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