15 February 2017
JOHANNESBURG - The South African Human Rights Commission will host a two day National Investigative Hearing on racial discrimination beginning on Wednesday.
Policymakers, researchers and civil society organisations are expected to make submissions.
The commission released a statement saying, "during the 2015/2016 financial year, the Commission received 505 race-related complaints. This is indicative of the fact that despite the significant achievements over the past 23 years of democracy, deep inequalities and unfair discrimination remain a serious concern."Social media in South Africa will be spotlit in the hearing as many incidents have been highly publicised and point to the evolving challenges in addressing racism in contemporary South Africa.
The commission stated, "[the commission] does not identify ‘social media’ as a specific category in classifying human rights complaints it receives; however, social media is increasingly being cited as a ‘location’ in which race-based equality complaints arise. Recent incidents on social media platforms thus illustrate the urgent need for intervention and leadership in confronting discrimination and issues related to the right to equality – and by extension, racism."
The hearing is intended to discuss allegations of racism that arise on social media, and build on the Commission’s approach to issues of racial discrimination and social cohesion.
The hearing panel will comprise of Chairperson of the SAHRC Advocate Bongani Majola, responsible for the Equality portfolio; Commissioner Angie Makwetla, who leads the SAHRC’s Children’s Rights portfolio; and former Constitutional Court Justice, Albie Sachs, who will assist the SAHRC as an external panelist.
The purpose of the National Hearing is to arrive at an understanding of what constitutes racism in the context of social media, who should be held accountable, and to what extent.