South African lobby group AfriForum is synonymous with sparking divisive dialogue and this time around, its bid to overturn a 2019 judgment on the display of the apartheid flag drew ire from social media.
Why is AfriForum fighting to bring back the apartheid flag?
AfriForum will look to the Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA) to convince a full-benched panel of judges that the ruling made by South Gauteng High Court Judge Phineas Mojapelo in August 2019 was in contradiction to the prescripts of South Africa’s Constitution.
In particular, the lobby group believes the judge erred in his interpretation of Section 16 (2) of the Bill of Rights, which deals with hate speech.
“The Court erred in finding that the gratuitous display of the Old Flag amounts to hate speech, that is, advocacy for hatred within the meaning of section 16(2),” AfriForum wrote in its appeal application.
The first point listed under Section 16 of the Constitution grants citizens the right to freedom of expression. The second point, which AfriForum holds as the centre of contention, lists the boundaries that exist within this right. For instance, everyone can enjoy freedom of expression so long as it does not:
- fuel propaganda for war;
- incite imminent violence; or
- advocate for hatred based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and promote the incitement of imminent harm
According to AfriForum, the decision made by the South Gauteng High Court to ban the apartheid flag was flawed as “such displays enjoy no protection as free speech under the Constitution.”
“The Court erred in finding that displaying the Old Flag can only constitute harassment,” the lobby group added.
The matter defended by AfriForum was first brought before a court of law two years after the 2017 Black Monday protests, where supporters of the lobby group, who had held nationwide demonstrations against farm murders, hoisted the apartheid flag.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) is expected to make submissions against AfriForum’s attempt to bring back the apartheid flag when the matter is tabled in court, on Wednesday 11 May 2022.