According to media reports and transcripts Julius Malema told his supporters outside the Newcastle Magistrate’s Court yesterday that:
“We, the rightful owners, our peace was disturbed by white man’s arrival here…They killed our people during land dispossession…They found peaceful Africans here. They killed them! They slaughtered them, like animals! We are not calling for the slaughter of white people, at least for now”.
“We will not chase white people into the sea. We will give them portion…That is where you stay. And you can’t own bigger than us. You are a visitor. Visitors must behave. They must know the land belongs to the people of South Africa, the indigenous people of South Africa… No white person is a rightful owner of the land here in South Africa and in the whole of the African continent. This is our continent; it belongs to us”.
“The people who belong to the court is (sic) FW de Klerk and all those whites who stole our land. But white minorities be warned, we will take our land. It doesn’t matter how…The land will be taken by whatever means necessary”.
Why is it important to take serious note of these comments and not dismiss them (as many do) as the rantings of an infantile political leader? Because Mr Malema's statements are a repudiation of the core values on which our Constitution is founded - including human dignity, the achievement of equality, and the advancement of human rights and freedoms and non-racialism. It is also a direct contravention of section 16(2) of the Constitution which prohibits “propaganda for war; incitement of imminent violence; or advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.” Mr. Malema’s reference to the Constitution outside the court in Newcastle is a serious test of our collective understanding of our constitutional values.
Secondly, Mr Malema’s statements should not be viewed in the same class as the racist comments generated by private citizens in the social media. He is the leader of the third largest party in Parliament and his racist comments reflect the considered policy of his party. They hold the threat of racial conflict that would destroy our constitutional democracy and leave South Africa in ruins.
Thirdly, Mr Malema’s assertion that whites (with FW de Klerk in the lead) stole the land of the black majority is not only a serious historical fallacy, but also an extremely dangerous idea.It is at the least stirring up racial polarisation and tension, and at the most creating a dangerous creation of “otherness”, which in Germany and Rwanda led to large-scale genocide.
Finally, Mr Malema’s statements are an attack on the whole of the post-1994 dispensation, not unlike the arguments of the #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall movements. It ruptures the fibre of our constitutional democracy and a free and non-racial South Africa.
The FW de Klerk Foundation rejects in the strongest possible terms Mr Malema’s reported statement and the transcripts of it. We are deeply concerned about the proliferation of slogans advocating race violence and the lack of action by the responsible authorities to condemn or counteract such hate speech. We are also extremely concerned about the incitement to unlawful occupation of land, which would violate not only a number of laws, but also section 25 of the Constitution.
The FW de Klerk Foundation will be requesting an urgent meeting with the Chairman of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to discuss these developments and the action that the Commission intends to take to counteract hate speech of this nature.
Issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation
Photo credit: www.iol.co.za