The Equality Court, sitting in the High Court in Johannesburg, has declared the public display of the apartheid flag as hate speech, saying it constitutes harassment.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation brought the matter to court, stating that the display of the flag amounts to hate speech and unfair discrimination against black South Africans. Lobby group, AfriForum, challenged the move, saying it will violate freedom of speech.

Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo handed down the judgment.

“It is in fact hurtful, harmful, promotes and propagates hatred towards black people. It demonstrates a clear intention to be hurtful, to be harmful and incites harm and it in fact promotes and propagates hatred against black people in contravention of Section 10.1 of the Equality Act. It constitutes hate speech.”

Judge Mojapelo says the flag is a symbol of racial oppression.

“As stated in the minister’s affidavit, it’s “an image that was the international symbol of apartheid.” For these reasons, the dominant meaning attributed to the old flag, both domestically and internationally, is that it is for the majority of the SA population a symbol that immortalises the period of a system of racial segregation, racial oppression through apartheid, a crime against humanity and of SA as an international pariah state that dehumanised the black population.”

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