Former Supreme Court Judge Rex van Schalkwyk said on Wednesday that the proposed Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill should be abandoned.
He addressed a discussion on hate speech organised by not-for-profit organisation Free Market Foundation (FMF) in Johannesburg.
FMF is an independent, public benefit organisation created by pro-free market business and civil society national bodies to work for a non-racial, free and prosperous South Africa.
Van Schalkwyk said that the Bill proposed the criminalisation of everything from actual hate speech, to harmless insults or comedic expression.
He said that South Africa had many other pressing issues that government should rather be addressing.
“The Bill was a vice dressed up as a virtue. The Penny Sparrow issue was a godsend to the African National Congress (ANC). There are other monumental issues which [have] received less attention,” Van Schalkwyk stated.
He warned that owing to the proposed Bill, South Africa could expect more arguments from government and added that government and the ANC were trying to re-racialise the country.
“The idea the rainbow nation [concept] started is going backwards,” he said.
Further, Van Schalkwyk noted that it was “sinister” that the Bill did not make provision for a specified defence.
Public comment on the proposed Bill closed at the end of January. FMF has made its submissions against the Bill.