Twenty three years into our democracy and South Africa still does not have a law criminalising hate motivated crimes– this despite incidents of race motivated crimes often dominating the headlines.

The South African Hate Crimes Working Group has conducted the most comprehensive in-depth study on hate crime to date.

And although they were unable to establish how prevalent it is, they found that victims ranged from infants to the elderly.

Human Rights Lawyer and Chairperson Sanja Bornman of the Hate Crimes Working Group, says legislation is critical.

“For as long as we do not have a legal definition and a law that governs hate crime the hate or the prejudice element behind these individual crimes remains invisible in the system and that makes victims feel invisible. It also makes it so that we can’t [monitor] hate crimes and if we can’t count them we don’t know anything about the size or the extent of the problem and if you don’t know anything about the extent of the problem then how you can do anything about it.”