More time has been allocated to the public to make submissions on the proposed new law to stop hate crimes and hate speech, the department of justice said on Wednesday.
“The department of justice and constitutional development is pleased to announce that due to public and stakeholder interest, the due date for the submission of inputs to the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill has been extended from 1 December 2016 to 31 January 2017,” the department said in a statement.
The department said it was of the view that the public must be afforded sufficient time to ensure that once passed into legislation the Bill reflects the collective wisdom of the country.
“The Bill creates the offences of hate crimes and hate speech and seeks to put in place measures to prevent and combat these offences. A hate crime is committed if a person commits any recognised offence, that is a common law or statutory offence (referred to as the “base crime or offence”) and the commission of that offence is motivated by unlawful bias, prejudice or intolerance,” the department said.
It said that the Bill was drafted after a thorough study of other similar pieces of legislation internationally, including those in Kenya, Canada and Australia.
Developing specific legislation on hate crimes will have a number of advantages, the department said.
“It will provide additional tools to investigators and prosecutors to hold the perpetrators of hate crimes accountable and provide a means to monitor efforts and trends in addressing hate crimes.”
On October 20, Cabinet announced it had given the green light for a new bill which would make hate crimes and hate speech criminal offences to be published for public comment.
The bill, which was first drafted to only make provision for hate crimes, was later amended after several instances of hate speech via social media which caused an outcry among South Africans.
The Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill will create offences for several forms of discrimination, including on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and nationality.