You might have noticed that the Apartheid-era flag has been cropping up a lot over the past couple of years.
One of the standout moments has to be the time Steve Hofmeyr tweeted a picture of himself in a bar with (multiple) flags on proud display.
Earlier this year, we told you about the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s appeal to have the flag declared hate speech following the #BlackMonday protests that took place around the country in October 2017, which were led in part by AfriForum.
Here’s a reminder of what those protests looked like:
There it is.
Over to The Daily Maverick for the outcome of the resultant court case:
“It is determined that the display of the old national flag of South Africa … constitutes hate speech in terms of 10.1 of the equality act… (and also) unfair discrimination on the basis of race .. and harassment,” said Judge Phineas Mojapelo.
Yaaas, Judge. Finally.
The opposition, led by two Afrikaans lobby groups – AfriForum and the Federation for Afrikaans Cultural Societies – had argued that banning the flag would encroach on freedom of expression.
They actually went as far as to argue that if the old flag was banned, it would set a precedent for the banning of the queer pride flag.
For the record – it won’t. The pride flag(s) symbolise the unity of a marginalised group that has faced centuries of oppression based on gender and/or sexuality. It should also be noted that the Apartheid government criminalised homosexuality, so the comparison is also really offensive.
The old SA flag has been used to unite a group of angry people who don’t like the fact that they lost power in this country – Dan Roodt, for example.
Here’s his response to the ruling, as retweeted by Steve Hofmeyr:
There is nothing factually correct or historically accurate about this tweet.
Back to the ruling:
In his ruling, Mojapelo said the order did not ban display of the flag outright, but confined it to artistic and journalistic displays, whose merits could be challenged in court.
The ‘Apartheid Flag’ actually pre-dates the formal promulgation of apartheid laws in 1948 by the then-ruling National Party, having been adopted in 1928.
The adoption of South Africa’s new flag was followed by the adoption of a constitution with laws dealing explicitly with the racism and discrimination that had characterised the country for centuries.
South Africa is still a relatively young democracy that struggles with racial tension.
Following World War II, the German Strafgesetzbuch (Criminal Code) in section 86a outlawed the “use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations” outside the contexts of “art or science, research or teaching”.
The law has primarily been used to outlaw Nazi symbols like the swastika and the old German (read, Nazi) flag.
History has shown us that symbols, like flags, have the power to unite or divide a country.
Denoting the old South African flag as hate speech is a step in the right direction.
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